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-profit, non-alcoholic festival 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 2017 festival is May 26-28 at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park located at 1010 Bay Street in Beaufort, South Carolina.  The gates for the festival will open Friday (12pm-8pm), Saturday (10am-10pm) and Sunday (2pm-7pm).  Come shop for unique Gullah and Low Country treasures and experience authentic cuisine at The Gullah Marketplace daily during the festival from 10am to 11 pm.

We are excited about our 31st Anniversary for the Original Gullah Festival of South Carolina.  We are offering discounted group tours and weekend ticket packages.

 Travel Agents and Charter Buses: Please contact the Beaufort, SC Chamber of Commerce at this number 800-638-3525 to pre-register for your travel permit within the city limits of Beaufort, SC. Thank You!!!


VIP Tents are available for Saturday & Sunday and include festival tickets with premium seating and seperate VIP entry for Four people, Four free meals, Four Souvenir T-Shirts and unlimited bottled water. Pricing is $500 for each day.

VIP Tables are available for Saturday & Sunday and include festival tickets with premium seating and seperate VIP entry for Two people, Two free meals and unlimited free water. Pricing is $100 for each day.




31st Anniversary Weekend Pass Includes:

1) FRI Caribbean White Dance Party Ticket

2) SAT Festival Ticket

3) SAT Decoration Day Play Ticket

4) SAT Night Silver Slipper Supper Club Ticket

4) Gullah Festival Tour

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.

Original Gullah Festival of SC



FESTIVAL RULES:  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 • Lest We Forget

“Lest We Forget” is an educational segment of the Gullah Festival where festival goers will have the opportunity to listen to informative panel discussions or presentations on heritage.  These sessions become very special because 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.  These sessions are free to the public.  All ages are welcome.  They will be held on Friday and Saturday between 11am to 3pm.

Click Here for 2017 Original Gullah Festival of South Carolina Festival Schedule

Gate Entry Fees

CreditCardLogos-fullAdult Prices (Age 13+). FREE Under 12

Friday –  FREE. Gate Hrs: 10am-8pm
Friday @ 3pm – $10 Line Dancing Workshop with Lynn Bryant
Friday @ 4:30pm – $10 Quilting Workshop
Friday @ 5:30pm – $30 Sweetgrass Basket Making Workshop with Annie Scott
(all workshops are inside the pay area)

Saturday – $20. Gate Hours: 10am-10pm

Sunday – FREE. Gate Hours: 2pm-7pm

Gullah Marketplace Hours (5/26-5/28):

2017 Separate Paid Events
Gullah Tours – $20.00
(10% off for Groups 25+)

Friday Night Dance – $30.00
Kiddie Village –FREE
Lest We Forget – FREE
Decoration Day Play – $25.00
(children ages 7- 12: $10 for play)
Saturday Night Silver Slipper Supper Club –  $30



2017 Festival Features
Black Inventors Museum
Rosalie’s Kitchen: Gullah Cuisine
The Gullah Village
Native American Camp & Vendors
Zumba Classes for kids (free)

Original Gullah Festival Store


IMG_20140523_080252796For 31 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.  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.

New for 2017!! The Gullah Festival Travel Team can assist with individual and group travel. Click Here to Request Lodging, Air Travel & Ground Transportation Information

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 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, the oldest granddaughter of Mrs. Rosalie Pazant, served as CEO & President of the Original Gullah Festival of South Carolina from 2013 to 2015, but reluctantly decided to resign her post in order to complete her EdD Doctoral degree in Education.  Thomas Roy Hicks II, grandson of Mrs. Rosalie Pazant, is currently the Executive Director of the festival and is the new CEO & President of the Original Gullah Festival of South Carolina, the parent company of a conglomerate of fund raising events, educational activities, and cultural awareness efforts including the Gullah Festival, the Black Inventors Museum, Native American Heritage, Miss Gullah Teen Pageant, and the Brandyfoot Awards. Thomas Roy Hicks Jr. also 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  

corridor sign

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).


The Original Gullah Festival of South Carolina reserves the right to use any photograph/video taken at the 3 day event without the expressed written permission of those included within the photograph/video. The Gullah Festival may use the photograph/video in publications or other media material produced, used or contracted by The Gullah Festival; including, but not limited to: brochures, books, invitations, newspapers, magazines, television, websites, etc.
To ensure the privacy of individuals and children, images will not be identified using full names or personal identifying information without written approval from the photographed subject, parent or legal guardian.
A person attending the Gullah Festival who does not wish to have their image recorded for distribution should make their wished known to the photographer and/or the event organizers and/or contact The Original Gullah Festival at P.O. Box 83, Beaufort, SC 29901 in writing of his/her intentions and include a photograph. The Gullah Festival will use the photo for identification purposes and will hold it in confidence.
By participating in the Gullah Festival or by failing to notify the Gullah Festival in writing your desire to not have your photograph used by the Gullah Festival, you are agreeing to release, defend, hold harmless and indemnify the Gullah Festival from any and all claims involving the use of your picture or likeness.
Any person or organization not affiliated with the Gullah Festival may not use, copy, alter or modify Gullah Festival photographs, graphics, videography or other similar reproductions or recordings without the advanced written permission of an authorized designee of the Gullah Festival.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

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