Brief History of Origin of Gullah Festival




        In 1986 five women just together for fun began a discussion about the good old days of how the black community would celebrate "Decoration Day" in our city. Those women were Mrs. Rosalie Pazant, her daughters Charlotte Pazant Brown, Lolita Pazant Harris and Reba Pazant Hunt and a family friend, Marlena McGhee. We threw around several names and finally came up with a name representative of the area. We decided to call our new venture "The Gullah Festival." We wanted to make our festival much more than what used to be at "Decoration Day" but we wanted to have some of that same old time flavor. We then seriously began planning some of the types of entertainment we would like to have. Once some major decisions were made about the purpose of the festival Mrs. Pazant took the leadership role in making our dream a reality.

        The first year of the festival was 1987. We had approximately thirty-five people in attendance. The festival has been in existence for 18 years now and we may have up to as many as 70 thousand people in attendance over the course of a three day period.

        Since our beginning, Marlena McGhee a Co-Founder, has moved on to begin her own entertainment group. Another Co-Founder, Lolita Pazant Harris passed in 1989. The three remaining Co-Founders are still working hard with many family and friends to make sure that the dream once started, remains alive.

        At present, our Board of Directors is the group of individuals which does most of the "leg work" and consist of the President and five Vice Presidents, each with special duties. The Executive Committee members are those chairpersons who meet each month to assist with festival planning. The volunteers are those dedicated individuals who give their time for a full weekend to make sure that the festivals flows smoothly.

        We decided the festival  would always be held the weekend before Memorial Day because we did not want to interfere with the annual Memorial Day festivities. Up until this year, the festival has been held at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in the heart of the City of Beaufort, South Carolina. Because of the growth of the festival, we will be using other sites with the main festival activities being held at the Beaufort High School Football Stadium.

        The festival has received the following recognitions:

  • Winner of the State Award 1990 & 1997

  • Listed among Top 20 Events in the Southeast May 1992, 1994, & 1998

  • Awarded special citation from SC House of Representatives in May, 1993

  • Recognized by the SC Senate in 1997

  • Recognized in Vision Magazine in 1997

  • Recognized by the US Congress in 1997 for an outstanding festival our size

  • Recognized by the American Business Association in 1998

  • Recognized by the Secretary of State as one of the Top Ten Angels for the state in 2003-04

  • Winner of the Bundy Award from the South Carolina Parks Recreation and Tourism for best festival our size in the state for 2004

        The Gullah Festival is a non-alcoholic festival. It is family oriented and has become an excellent vacation spot for all types of reunion activities, community groups and friendly gatherings. Our festival will always have as one of its goals to educate. We educate in our pre-festival activities and we educate all during the festival through our selection of entertainment. The festival committee presents awards and donates to the community in a variety of ways. The festival's activities includes jazz, blues, reggae, gospel, storytelling, dance, arts & crafts, food court filled with local cuisine and special cultural dishes, vendor markets, educational forums, teen summits, beauty pageant, art shows, museum displays, dinner dances and plays.

Gullah Festival History

Gullah Festival Fees

Gullah Festival Committees

Gullah Festival Donations

Gullah Festival Entertainment Participation

Gullah Festival Group Packages

Gullah Festival Vending

Gullah Festival Pictures

Gullah Festival Directions