The Gullah Festival was established to honor and recreate the atmosphere of a celebration called Decoration Day, now named, Memorial Day. As a result, every year during the festival weekend, there is a Decoration Day Play to commemorate the historic event. The Festival provides a unique family friendly cultural experience 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.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
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 the 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.
Carrying the torch that had been lit, Charlotte Pazant Brown later took on the role as the Interim President (2001-2005) and then officially held the position from 2005 to October 2013. That torch has since been carried by Pazanta Hicks (2013-June 2015) and now Roy Hicks, who took on the role in 2015 and continues to serve as the president of the Gullah Festival.
In the tradition of its founders, the festival continues to focus on educating the masses about the Gullah culture. Lest We Forget is a part of the festival where there are panel discussions and presentations on heritage. Audience members have an opportunity to become involved by asking questions and participating in meaningful discussions about our past, how it directly relates to our present and how it will affect our future. All ages are welcome.
The Original Gullah Festival values education, family and so much more. We want our visitors to learn about the Gullah culture so they can share it with others. That's why Lest We Forget is such an important part of the festival.
Lest We Forget
The Brandyfoot Awards is a pre-festival fundraising event where we take the time to recognize deserving citizens in the Gullah community. The "Brandyfoot" criteria requires an individual to demonstrate all of the following traits:
1. Strong leadership skills
2. Long term involvement in a community common interest
3. Have achieved various personal accomplishments and notoriety on state, regional levels
4. Demonstrates dedication to country and community
5. Demonstrates a respect for the Gullah culture
Though we cannot give the original 5 a Brandyfoot Award, we can look at the criteria and thank them for having a vision!