Beaufort Gullah Festival celebrates Lowcountry Gullah heritage

Beaufort Gullah Festival celebrates Lowcountry Gullah heritage
(Source: WTOC)

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - People in Beaufort took some time to celebrate Gullah heritage with a weekend full of traditional culture, entertainment, and, of course, good food. The annual festival has been held on Memorial Day weekend for over 30 years and is one of the only festivals celebrating Gullah culture in the country.

"It's a celebration of one of the only traditional black cultures in America," said Samuel Louis Jones, a Gullah community member. "This is one of the only ones. We cover four states from Jacksonville, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida."

The three-day event focuses on education and preserving African-American Gullah heritage throughout the Lowcountry and beyond.

"It's acknowledging and recognizing the culture in this town and throughout Charleston, Savannah, Brunswick, Ga., throughout this whole strip," said Roy Hicks, Gullah Festival President.

Organizers say the festival is more of a celebration of remembrance. This year's theme is "remember the past, preserve the present, build our future."

"We are trying to make sure everyone is aware of the culture and understand where it comes from," said Roy Hicks, Gullah Festival President. "It's just not about freed slaves, you know. It's a mixture of everything that took place in the beginning."

The weekend-long festival included performances as well as booths with Gullah items. Basket weaving, quilt making, dancing and much more was seen at the event. While the festival offers a little of everything, it still keeps the culture alive.

"It's a piece of us," said fabric artist Brenda Brunson-Bey. "Through culture, through all the things they have cultivated here. And to still keep that culture alive is very important for everybody that lives in this country that you keep your culture alive, and that's how we get an appreciation of everyone else's culture."

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