Learn about Gullah Geechee history and culture at Sweetgrass Festival

  • Friday, February 22, 2013

African dancers will demonstrate their dances at the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Sweetgrass on May 31-June 2. PHOTO PROVIDED


The Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival, planned for May 31, June 1 and 2 at the Town of Mount Pleasant Waterfront Memorial Park, will celebrate and promote the history and culture of the Gullah Geechee people. It will also provide a wealth of useful information, delicious food and wonderful entertainment.

The festival will open on Friday, May 31 with the “Real Taste” of Gullah banquet from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Cooper River Room at the park which promises to be an evening to remember. The banquet will feature a variety of delicious Gullah Cuisine provided by the Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College, Joe’s Catering services, Café on Main and Cruncho Enterprise. Renowned local artist, Jonathan Green will present an illustrated talk with a look into the history of the Gullah Geechee people’s rice culture, followed by the African Rice dance performed by students from Sanders Clyde Elementary School. Guests will be treated to a unique fashion show featuring sweetgrass hats and evening purses designed and made by local sweetgrass basket makers and modeled by the Charleston Hat Ladies. Witness the ceremonial “Passing on the Tradition” of sweetgrass basket making to the next generation. Entertainment will be provided by songstress Zandrina Dunning, saxophonist Devon Gary and the Secret Jazz Band. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased at: tasteofgullah.eventbrite.com – or by calling 856-9732.

On Saturday, June 1, The Gullah Geechee Group will host a seminar from 9 a.m. to noon at the Mount Pleasant Waterfront Memorial Park Visitors Center. Local scholars will provide information and engage participants in discussions concerning health, education and heirs property issues within the African-American communities along the Gullah Geechee Culture Heritage Corridor. Admission is free.

From 1 to 3 p.m. the Mount Pleasant Waterworks, Charleston County and the Town of Mount Pleasant will present a comprehensive side-by-side comparison on the pros and cons of annexation along with information about sewer and septic tank services.

The information will be presented by representatives to help property owners better understand the costs effects and impacts upon the delivery of police, fire, recreation, trash collection, as well as homeowner’s insurance rates. Admission is free.

New this year, the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival will feature the Imani Milele Children’s Choir from Uganda, Africa, on June 1 from noon to 8 p.m. Their sound combined with African traditional dance and drum routines, comes together to create a performance that you will never forget.

The public is invited to participate in hands-on basket making demonstrations and techniques used to create the stunning works of art. Don’t miss out on the drawings for a chance to win one of these beautiful baskets.

Browse the showcase of beautiful paintings, handmade quilts, arts and crafts that will be on display and available for purchase.

View the authentic slave artifacts exhibition and hear stories told by local basket makers in “Grass Roots” and “Bin Yah,” two locally produced documentary films that give an inside look at the life and history of the local basket makers.

The festival is sponsored in part by The Town of Mount Pleasant; the Market at Oakland; Billy Swails, State Farm Agent; Berkeley Electric Coop; The Berry Company; Dr. Joan Wynn-Taylor; Roper St. Francis Healthcare; East Cooper Medical Center; SCANA/SCE&G; Charleston County; Coastal Community Foundation; Juniper Blue Water; Direct Marketers of Charleston; Stubbs Muldrow Herin architects; and Hughes Rental Company.

Visit: www.sweetgrassfestival.org or call (843)856-9732 for more info.

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