Tag Archives: Festivals of Coastal Georgia

Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters at the Gathering, Riceboro

I drove down to Riceboro yesterday to see the wonderful work Jim Bacote (above, right) has done with Geechee Kunda and to check out his Gathering, an annual celebration of Geechee and Gullah folkways. Jim is passionate about preserving this history and it’s tangible. Geechee Kunda is the culmination of his lifelong fascination with this endangered way of life. I first met him a couple of years ago when he was still working on his museum and history center so I didn’t get to make any photographs. He invited me to come back and  I’m so glad I finally got to see it yesterday.

The highlight for me was a performance by the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters (not to be confused with the McIntosh County Shouters, who organized about a decade before the Geechee Gullah). This group of dedicated men and women share the ring shout with the world and aim for authenticity. They’re historic interpreters of the highest order and preserve a tradition that was thought to be extinct as recently as 1980. Historians believe the ring shout is the oldest surviving African performance tradition in North America. While “shouting” in the vocal sense is a part of the performance, linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner, who spent a lifetime researching the Gullah language and culture, suggested that the term came from the Afro-Arabic word saut. This is a reference to the forward-moving shuffle, during which the feet are not to cross, associated with pilgrimages to the Kabaa at Mecca.

It’s hard not to come away from a performance by the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters with a better understanding of a culture that, especially as white Southerners, we have kept at a distance at best or dismissed altogether at worst.

One thing you’ll quickly notice when you’re around the Shouters is their charisma. They’re very passionate about what they’re doing and you can feel it. You not only learn but you’re uplifted, as well.

In 2011, the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters set the Guinness World Record for leading the largest recorded ring shout, during the “Word, Shout, Song” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D. C.

Besides the world record ring shout, the group is also proud to have among their performers Mrs. Butler (above, right), who at 90 is the world’s oldest living ring shouter. She’s amazing.

At the end of the performance, a narrative of Emancipation is re-enacted and is quite powerful. If you couldn’t already tell, I was very moved by these living historians and would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to attend one of their events.

 

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Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Riceboro GA

Colonial Faire & Muster, Isle of Hope

Colonial Faire & Muster Wormsloe Isle of Hope Savannah GA Reenactor Oaks Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

The first weekend in February brings a popular celebration to historic Wormsloe each year, with colorful reenactors and period vendors on hand.

Colonial Faire & Muster Wormsloe Traditional Dance Isle of Hope Savannah GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Colonial-era dances are always a popular activity and the public is encouraged to join in.

Colonial Faire & Muster Wormsloe Plantation Isle of Hope Savannah Reenctor Tents Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

One can really appreciate the difficult lives of Georgia’s first settlers, especially on a damp, cold day.

Colonial Faire & Muster Wormsloe Isle of Hope Savannah GA Soldier Reenactor Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

Military reenactors win the prize for best-dressed participants.

Colonial Faire & Muster Wormsloe Isle of Hope Savannah GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016Colonial militia reenactors have an obvious passion for history.

Colonial Faire & Muster Wormsloe Historic Site Isle of Hope Savannah GA Reenactors Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

Their dress is quite colorful.

Colonial Faire & Muster Wormsloe Isle of Hope Savannah GA Ladies Reenactors Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

These ladies were braiding belts and had some for sale, giving a nice demonstration of Colonial crafts.

Colonial Faire & Muster Wormsloe Savannah Reenactors Drummer Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

If you’re ever in Savannah the first weekend of February, check out this event. It’s a great way to celebrate Georgia history.

Colonial Faire & Muster Wormsloe State Historic Site Isle of Hope Savannah GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

 

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Isle of Hope GA

150th Anniversary of the Burning of Darien

On June 11, 1863 the seaport of Darien was vandalized and burned by Federal forces stationed on nearby St. Simons Island. The town was largely deserted, most of its 500 residents having sought refuge inland. Lost were public buildings, churches, businesses and most private residences. Conducting the raid were units comprised of among the first African-American troops to serve the Union cause, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers under Col. Robert G. Shaw, and the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers under Col. James Montgomery. The burning of Darien, undefended and of little strategic importance, was one of the most controversial events of the Civil War. (Text of  historic marker placed by the Lower Altamaha Historical Society and the Georgia Historical Society in 2001). The movie Glory was based loosely on the story of the 54th Massachusetts.

Large crowds were on hand to see reenactors demonstrating all aspects of Civil War camp life and techniques at the Darien Riverfront Park.

The reenactors had as much fun as the visitors and it was a perfect day for such a commemoration.

I suspect that some of the Union reenactors were actually from Georgia, but I can’t be sure.

A canon crew from nearby Fort McAllister State Park was on hand, with hourly firings. This was certainly one of the more popular attractions of the day.

Missy Brandt and Will Wilson pose in front of the Adam Strain Building, which survived (with damage) the Burning of Darien and stands today as the oldest relic of the town’s early history.

Ladies in period dress provided a civilian aspect to the reenactment.

Celebrations of Union victories in the South are still quite uncommon, so it was a fascinating day.

At noon, uniformed reenactors paraded down Broad Street among enthusiastic crowds to the Adam Strain Building for a ceremonial torch lighting. It was nice to see such a huge turnout for this event.

The new Darien Civil War Museum represents wonderful work by members of the McIntosh County Historic Preservation Commission and numerous volunteers. Harriet Langford reports that over 200 people visited the museum during the commemoration. The museum is located on 1st Street, just off U. S. Highway 17 and houses artifacts, including a recreation of the Garey family’s parlor, as it appeared before being sacked by Union troops in 1863.

Reenactors of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Encampment getting ready for the parade.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Darien GA

Shrimp Boat Parade, Blessing of the Fleet, 2012, Darien

This was the 44th Annual Blessing of the Fleet in Darien. It’s one of a few remaining on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

Participants await their turns in the shrimp boat parade, which is the highlight of the Blessing of the Fleet.  From the eastern edge of Darien the boats parade toward the US Highway 17 bridge, receive their blessings, and return to the docks, all to the cheers of thousands of well-wishers. This tradition has grown into one of Georgia’s most popular festivals, including a weekend-long celebration featuring fine artists, musicians, vendors, and of course, the freshest wild Georgia seafood available.

I cannot overemphasize my support for the member fishermen of the Wild Georgia Shrimp Association. Most people don’t realize that most of the shrimp and other seafood they buy in grocery stores and markets these days is far from fresh, and originates far from Georgia. Chinese and farm-raised shrimp and fish have essentially taken over the U. S. market, but not only is their quality vastly inferior, its availability threatens the very way of life of the men, women and families who make their livings fishing in Georgia’s coastal waters.If you have the choice, only purchase shrimp branded with the “Wild Georgia Shrimp” logo or look for their decal on restaurant doors and menus. If an establishment doesn’t carry it, ask them why not. Though fresh seafood is always more readily available near the coast, the Wild Georgia Shrimp logo is starting to show up in more and more localities.

 

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace parade crew

Big Cobb

Captain Drew

Captain Jack

Captain Jack parade crew

Captain ZackKim-Sea-King

Lady Susie II

Miss BerthaSea Angel

Smokin’ Joe

Sundown

Wait-n-Sea

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Darien GA