African fire blower performs at Gullah Festival
A five-day celebration of diversity in the arts in
Beaufort, South Carolina, this May festival showcases talent from
the local, regional, national, and international levels and prides
itself on having something to appeal every taste.
At the first festival in 1986, local choirs performed
gospel music and spirituals; there was also jazz, storytelling,
symphonic music, arts and crafts, and a troupe from Charleston
presented a portion of
Porgy and Bess. However, the
audience was disappointingly small, first festival ended in the
red. Although the first few festivals were plagued with financial
difficulties, Rosalie Pazant, the festival's founder, persevered,
finally winning the support of the former mayor, city and county
governments. It took ten years for the Festival to pay its debt to
the city. But, each year the Gullah Festival has grown bigger and
better, until in 1999, it hosted more than 70,000 people from 32
states and many countries. Storytelling, African dance and
drumming, and music ranging from gospel to jazz is performed. Other
attractions include displays of fine arts and crafts, cultural
workshops, and fashion shows. Boat-building, basket-weaving, and
quilting are demonstrated. There is a Black Inventions Museum, and
each year the festival recognizes a "Gullah Family of the Year."
Recently a Gullah Teen Pageant and a Gullah Golf Tournament were
added. A wide variety of ethnic foods, including low-country
cuisine, are available. A worship service is given Sunday morning
on the waterfront, and a marketplace in Port Royal once used in the
slave trade is rededicated in memory of Gullah predecessors. The
festival is the recipient of sixteen awards, including ones from
both houses of the South Carolina State legislature and the U.S.
The festival is documented in 11 pages of text,
seventeen 8 x 10 photographs, several programs from and two
videotapes of the 1999 festival, news clippings, a tee-shirt, and a
, Never Too Late :
The Life and Times of a Gullah
Woman, an autobiography Rosalie F. Pazant, who, along with her
daughters founded the festival in 1986.
Originally submitted by: Strom Thurmond, Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.