The Original Gullah Festival


The Original Gullah Festival of South Carolina was first held in 1986 by natives of Beaufort to continue a four-day celebration of the historical significant Sea Island heritage. The festival focuses on education and cultural preservation of the African American Gullah heritage in the low country. Our festival is a non-alcoholic festival and is designed for family, friends, church groups, youth groups, class reunions and many other groups who visit with us.

The Gullah Festival annually takes place every Memorial Day weekend. The 2014 festival is May 23-25 at the Technical College of the Lowcountry at 921 Ribaut Rd, Beaufort, South Carolina.  Beaufort has become an excellent vacation spot for all types of reunion activities, community groups, and friendly gatherings. Many tourists are consistently attracted to the festival from forty-two states and several countries including Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Canada, Australia, England, Germany, and Guadeloupe. The attendance of the festival has grown from 30 attendees in 1986 to 70,000 people over a three day period.



No alcohol, drugs, pets or tents.  Coolers, Chairs & umbrellas allowed. Coolers will be searched for alcohol.

Storytelling • Facepainting • Bounce Houses • Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, Gospel, Reggae, & Caribbean Music • African Drumming & Dancing • Native American Heritage •Educational Forums • Black Inventors Museum • Arts & Crafts • Vendors Market • Food Court • Family Day • Teen Pageant • Re-dedication of the Historical Marker in Port Royal

Click Here to View The Original Gullah Festival Entertainment Schedule

Live Entertainment Includes:

header Will Ready




Click Here to View The Original Gullah Festival Entertainment Schedule

Gate Entry Fees 

Adult Prices (Age 13+). FREE Under 12

Friday – $5.00

Saturday – $15.00

Sunday – $10.00



2014 Separate Paid Events
Gullah Step-On Tours- fee TBA
Friday Night Neo-Soul Jam – $15.00
Kiddie Village – $5.00
Lest We Forget – $5.00
Decoration Day Play – $15.00
(children ages 7- 12: $10 for play)


2014 Festival Features
Black Inventors Museum
Rosalie’s Kitchen: Gullah Cuisine
The Sankofa Circle
The Gullah Village
Native American Camp & Vendors
Zumba Classes for kids (free)

Original Gullah Festival Store

Get directions from your location to the Technical College of the Low Country.

(Click “Directions” on the map below.)

schoolFor 28 years, the goal of the Gullah Festival is to reclaim for future generations the beauty and mystery of the disappearing Gullah Culture, a mix of West African legacy, Native American and African-American experience to help arts in Education, to provide scholarships to worthy students, and to foster a better understanding and appreciation for the culture. Highlights include consumer, educational, historical workshops, a fine arts exhibit, demonstrations and a potpourri of music and food for everyone.  In previous years, the festival has been held at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in the heart of the city of Beaufort, SC.  The Festival we will be held on the campus of the Technical College of the Low Country at 921 Ribaut Rd Beaufort, SC 29902 May 23-25, 2014. Many tourists are consistently attracted to the festival from forty-two states and several countries including Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Canada, Australia, England, Germany, and Guadeloupe.






Gram in the US Flag One day in 1985 five women gathered reminiscing about the days when the black community would celebrate Decoration Day in Beaufort, SC. Those women included: Mrs. Rosalie Pazant, her daughters Charlotte Pazant Brown, Lolita Pazant Harris and Reba Pazant Hunt and a family friend, Marlena McGhee. The ladies decided 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 threw 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.

After the first year, Marlena McGhee a Co-Founder, 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.  Pazanta Byars is the new CEO & President of The Original Gullah Festival of South Carolina, Inc., the parent company of a conglomerate of fund raising events, educational activities, and cultural awareness efforts including The Gullah Festival, the Gullah Cultural Alliance, the Black Inventors Museum, Native American Heritage, and Gospel Gullah-Bration. Thomas Roy Hicks Jr. is the new COO & Executive Director of the Gullah Festival event and manages the logistics that are instrumental in planning the festival’s three day event. Also, there are many volunteers who dedicate their time for a full weekend to make sure that the festival flows smoothly.

The festival has received the following recognition


Winner of the State Award 1990 & 1997

Top 20 Events in the Southeast May 1992, 1994, 1998

SC House of Representatives May 1993

SC Senate in 1997


Vision Magazine in 1997

Outstanding Festival by USA Congress in 1997 

Awarded Top Ten Angels by S. Carolina Secretary of State

Recognized by the American Business Association in 1998

Bundy Award for Best Festival from the South Carolina Parks Recreation & Tourism 2003-04  

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The Original Gullah Festival encourages community involvement by inviting various school systems to learn the Gullah culture at the festival thereby increasing public awareness of Gullah contributions and Sea Island culture.

Inspired by the festival, James Clyburn introduced a Bill in which US Congress declared the coast of South Carolina and thirty miles inland a “Gullah Heritage Corridor.”We have achieved these accomplishments through Educational seminars, Historical Workshops, Fine Arts Exhibits, Historical Tours, and a Potpourri of Music and food for everyone.





The festival includes vendors, local, national, and international entertainment, shoppers, and loyal attendees. The vendors who come to the festival take pride in bringing outstanding wares and in setting up a market display that defies comparison. Many shoppers come to the festival for the sole purpose of browsing through the Vendors Market.


We have been honored with the attendance of royalty such as Mr. Godfrey Binaisi, former counsel to the Queen of England and Former President of Uganda; the great-grandson of Charles Frederick Gilpin, Dr. Jartue Gilpin, who traveled the Underground Railroad with Harriet Tubman and sculpted the head of this famous activist.

Previous Festival Headliners include the Marie Brooks Dancers; the famed R&B grammy-award winning group, the Manhattans; R&B Sensation Tony Terry; the Soweto Street Beat African Dancers from South Africa; Bernadette Stanis (Thelma of ‘Good Times’); singer James Brown; storyteller and National Heritage Award Winnner, Mama Yaa; and native son Johnathan Green (Internationally acclaimed artist).

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