Beaufort’s Gullah Festival showcases the African history and heritage of South Carolina’s Low Country Gullah culture, a blend of West African, European and Native American cultures, which became a way of life for West African slaves living on the Sea Islands off the coast of the South Carolina mainland. The annul event attracts talent from the local, regional, national, and international levels and prides itself on having something to appeal to every taste, including art and history exhibits including local choirs, jazz, storytelling, symphonic music, arts and crafts, and theater.
This year’s event runs from May 24 through May 26. For more information on the schedule of events, please visit the festival’s official website for more information on this year’s event.
More About Gullah Life & Culture
The Gullah are African Americans who live in the Low Country region of South Carolina and Georgia, which includes both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands. Historically, the Gullah region once extended north to the Cape Fear area on the coast of North Carolina and south to the vicinity of Jacksonville on the coast of Florida; but today the Gullah area is confined to the South Carolina and Georgia Low Country. The Gullah people are also called Geechee, after the Ogeechee River near Savannah, Georgia. The term Geechee is most commonly used in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Gullah are known for preserving more of their African linguistic and cultural heritage than any other African American community in the United States. They speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords and significant influences from African languages in grammar and sentence structure. The Gullah language is related to Jamaican Creole, Bahamian Dialect, and the Krio language of Sierra Leone in West Africa. Gullah storytelling, foodways, music, folk beliefs, crafts, farming and fishing traditions, etc. all exhibit strong influences from West and Central African cultures.