The Lands End Woodland, Inc. of St. Helena Island, SC will celebrate the 4th Lands End Woodland River Festival on Labor Day weekend, September 4-5, 2009 to commemorate the legacy of its Gullah founding fathers. The festival is a community celebration of the Gullah ancestry and traditions of the people of St. Helena Island through music, storytelling, historical presentations, crafts and food.
In 1920, forty-seven African slave descendants purchased 328 acres of the former Baker Plantation on St. Helena Island to preserve it for the recreational enjoyment of future generations. Today, the Lands End Woodland, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization maintained by the descendants or heirs of the original land owners. It is the oldest landowners association owned by African Americans in South Carolina.
The River Festival has become a multicultural celebration and a favorite event for residents and visitors from Beaufort, Savannah, Columbia, and Charleston looking to enjoy cultural festivities over the long holiday weekend. On Friday, September 4th, beginning at 5:00 p.m., a good ole’ fashion fish fry will include fried fish dinners, boiled crabs and music on the riverbanks. On Saturday, September 5th, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., all-day performances by church choirs, dancers, musicians, and storytellers will entertain visitors. There will also be health and safety exhibits, crafts and food vendors selling a variety of hand-made goods and serving a “taste of Gullah.”
In 2002 in the Capitol Column, Congressman James Clyburn said, “I applaud the efforts of the Lands End Woodland Club, who knew the dangers of partitioning and took the necessary action to insure the deed was clear. They went to great lengths to protect their 328 acres.” In the wake of a boundary dispute seven years ago between billionaire Ted Turner and the Woodland organization, the Lands End Woodland successfully won their claim and the case and garnered national attention for the small Sea Island community. Clyburn commented, “This is happening to slave descendants throughout the South. As the land is lost, so too is the Gullah culture that once dominated these islands. I have secured federal funding for the National Parks Service to study ways to prevent future loss of this important cultural heritage.” In 2005, Congressman Clyburn signed a bill to introduce the Gullah Geechee National Cultural Heritage Corridor into law.
THIS EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Parking will be available for cars ($3), vans ($10) and buses ($15) on the grounds. The Woodland beachfront property is located on Lands End Road, six miles south of Penn Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive on St. Helena Island. For more festival information, please call (843) 838-4503 or (843) 838-2474.