One of South Carolina’s award-winning events, the annual Original Gullah Festival, returns Memorial Day Weekend and will be held from Friday, May 26, through Sunday, May 28, at Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
The theme for this year’s festival is “Come Home to a Celebration of Reconstruction … The Untold Story.”
The Gullah are descendants of formerly enslaved West Africans living in the Sea Islands who work to keep their culture alive.
The three days of festivities feature “Lest We Forget History” seminars; a Gullah Lowcountry supper; live music; a film festival; African dance and drums; history re-enactors; the Robert Smalls Traveling Museum exhibit; a full-stage musical, “Decoration Day”; Reconstruction Gullah tours; Gullah African diaspora artists; a jazz concert; an All-White Attire Waterfront Party; gospel music; and a Silver Slipper Supper Club Dance.
There will also be a Gullah marketplace with more than 40 craft and food vendors.
Celebrations begin at 10 a.m. Friday with a Gullah village where re-enactors will share the Reconstruction story.
Mainstage entertainment begins at 1 p.m. Admission is free during the day. Friday’s premier event is the Reggae R&B All-White Attire Waterfront Party at 9 p.m. Admission is $30.
The festival continues Saturday at 10 a.m. Admission for Saturday’s events is $20 for adults and free for Children 12 and under.
Entertainment includes “Gullah Gullah Island” Nickelodeon TV stars Ron and Natalie Daise, Dr. Marlena Smalls and the Hallelujah Singers, Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters, neo-soul music, the Wona Womalan West African Drum & Dance Ensemble and the Gullah village.
A full-stage musical “Decoration Day … An Old Fashioned Memorial Day” will be presented at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Tabernacle Baptist Church, 901 Craven St.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children.
Festival goers are asked to put on their shiny dancing shoes Saturday evening for the Silver Slipper Supper Club Dance co-sponsored by Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce and the Beaufort Inn Tabby Place. New to the festival this year, the event will lfeature live music by Gwen Yvette & Company and D.J. Topher. Food will be donated and catered by Southern Graces. Tickets are $30 for general admission or $45 for V.I.P. early dinner seating at 8 p.m.
The Hour of Power service begins at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Waterfront Park. The Commemorative Marker Rededication of the African Landing follows at 11 a.m. on 11th Street off of Parris Avenue, in neighboring Port Royal. The Festival resumes 1 p.m. at the Waterfront Park.
For tickets and more information, visit www.theoriginalgullahfestival.org.
Artist to sign festival posters