HISTORY

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

The Gullah Festival was established to honor and recreate the atmosphere of a celebration called Decoration Day, now named, Memorial Day, The Original Gullah Festival provides unique family friendly cultural experiences for local, national and international attendees of over 35,000 during the 3 day event. For over 30 years, we have been celebrating our rich history. With your support, we will continue to share the Gullah experience. 

One day in 1985, five women were gathered and reminiscing about the days when the black community would celebrate Decoration Day in Beaufort, SC.  Those women were Mrs. Rosalie Pazant, her daughters, Charlotte Pazant Brown, Lolita Pazant Harris and Reba Pazant and family friend, Marlena McGhee. The ladies decided that they should plan their own event in which they could keep that same old time flavor as Decoration Day while expanding on their ideas, including incorporating entertainment they selected. They tossed around several names and finally came up with a name representative of the area and decided to call their new venture "The Gullah Festival." Under the helm of Mrs. Pazant, their dream became a reality and the first year of the festival was 1986. 

TEAM EFFORTS REWARDED

The Board of Directors and the Executive Committee members are those chairpersons who meet each month to assist with festival planning. The visible volunteers are those dedicated individuals who give their time for a full weekend to make sure the festival flows smoothly. As a result of many years of hard work, the festival has received the following recognitions:

  • Winner of the State Award 1990 & 1997

  • Listed among the 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, 1997

  • Recognized in Vision Magazine, 1997

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

  • Recognized by the American Business Association in 1998

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

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

  • South Carolina House of Representatives - April 4, 2017  Recognized the significant impact of the Original Gullah Festival of SC and expressed appreciation for its meaningful contributions in retaining the historic Gullah culture and its economic contribution to the state's tourism industry.

The Festival has been spotlighted on "60 Minutes," "National Geographic" and "The Today Show."  It was also recognized by the National Bus Association and named among the Top 100 Events in the Nation. 

There are no salaries paid. All money is put back into the Festival by way of paying entertainment or scholarships. What we do, we do out of love for our people and our culture. But every now and then, it's nice to be recognized for our labor.

African Tribal Drums - Demba Dyasan
00:00 / 00:00
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The Hour of Power Worship Service takes place on Sunday, 5/24 at 9AM. This worship experience on the waterfront is one that you don't want to miss. So join us at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park on Sunday, May 24th. and be prepared to have your spirit lifted!

Proudly created by Dawna and Bradford Pazant