December 2007

Daufuskie Autumn Festival

Author: Lindsey Hawkins

A Celebration of Friendship and Good Times

Twelve friends, four children under the age of 10, fresh grass, clear skies and all the oysters you can eat is the secret to fun on Daufuskie Island. Add a culture that is barely holding on after surviving forced relocation and slavery, and you get a recipe for the meaning of true understanding and acceptance. Learn a little and live a little; not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Lindsey Hawkins and Lula soak in the 3rd Annual Daufuskie Autumn Festival

The modest, 3rd Annual Daufuskie Autumn Festival came to pass this November and left with quite a large impact for some. It was a typical, perfect Saturday afternoon with the aroma of bratwurst and Old Bay-seasoned shrimp. Eight tents in an imperfect circle, including face painting, Homemade Gourmet Meals in Four Minutes, food vendors, and Gullah art, provided enough activity for one to relax and enjoy the weekend. But more interesting and more import was the culture that was there to educate and celebrate.

To kick off the festival, the WEBE Gullah Geechee Anointed People held a ceremony to honor their ancestors and humble the spirits of everyone. Queen Quet, “The Mother,” told everyone at the festival to make a giant circle. As she poured water on the ground at different points in the circle, she recited praise and song to God and the ancestors for their strength and courage in “the belly of the beast in bondage,” celebrating that their culture is still here.

Queen Quet and Minister, Carly Town welcome everyone at the opening ceremony

“She has done the work of millions,” said Minister, Carly Town.

The ceremony wrapped up with songs by Brother Da Sheik Woodard, as he and festival founder, Robin Townsend, entertained the children with interactive songs and balloon blowing contests. From that point on, there were more marshmallows and oysters than child and adult could eat, roasted over the festival bonfire.

Growing from one woman’s interest in promoting the historic district of the island, the Daufuskie Autumn Festival succeeded again this year. Townsend, the founder, wanted everyone to know the people and culture of the area and wanted to support local non-profits. The Little White School Library, run by Sara Deitch, and the Daufuskie Island Conservancy, were collecting donations and selling t-shirts and books.

The festival has really grown and continues to do so, according to Maria Martin, who has lived on the island for 22 years. In 2005, there were 75 participants and four vendors; in 2006, there were 200 people and nine vendors. With 2007 under their belts, it just keeps growing.

“Something just gets in your blood here—a peace of mind,” said fifth-generation Daufuskie native, Yvonne Wilson. “Everyone is all one, not separated by color.”

Wilson spoke of community, sharing and living as one family rather than as separate neighbors. She said her favorite pastime was just riding down the road and waving because she just loved being here.

“How you start is how you finish,” said Queen Quet at the beginning of the ceremony.

Interestingly enough, 12 friends and four children under the age of four, ended the day in a circle on the grass playing GOLO and feeling the energy that runs through the spirit of friendship and good times.

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