Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association Hosts Seafood Festival

Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association Seafood Festival - People preparing food under a white tent

Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association Seafood Festival in St. Helena Island, SC.

A perk of working with fishermen is of course getting a chance to taste some of the best seafood around. When I learned that the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association would organize its very first annual seafood festival, I didn’t need to be convinced that it would feature the finest dishes in the Lowcountry. Held last Saturday in St. Helena Island, SC, the festival brought together visitors, neighbors, families, and friends for a celebration of good eating. 

The event was a fundraiser and membership drive for the newly founded organization. GGFA formed earlier this year as an outcome of meetings led by EDF and the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition to reach out to the African-American fishing community in the Southeast. Many within this community identify themselves as Gullah/Geechee, the descendents of West African enslaved people brought to the United States nearly 400 years ago.

Gullah/Geechee Seafood Festival - Container of collard greens, macaroni and cheese, cornbread and stuffed crab and other seafood.

Delicious food from the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association Seafood Festival

On Saturday, the air was flooded with the aroma of savory, traditional Gullah/Geechee seafood cuisine. Fried shrimp, whiting, flounder, oysters, deviled crab, steamed crab, shrimp and grits, and gumbo were only some of the dishes the association had to offer during the festivities. Members of the association supplied much of the seafood and served as chefs providing mouth watering fish hot off the stove. The food was nothing short of a feast.

In an interview earlier last week, Queen Quet, head of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and secretary of GGFA, conveyed the cultural significance of the festival. According to Queen Quet, it is important to support GGFA because of its objective to passed down this customary knowledge to the next generation. For the Gullah/Geechee, fishing is an aspect of their culture worth honoring. It is a life skill that endured the African Diaspora and later helped to provide financial independence for the people. Thus ensuring healthy marine resources is an essential piece to protecting this “unbroken” tradition.

Oyster shells in a large plastic white basket

Oyster shells

Turnout for the event was strong, helping to raise enough money just shy of the association’s goal. In lieu of the successful festival, the GGFA is already looking into plans for next year. 

Congratulations to GGFA for putting on a great event. The level of hard work that went into it was evident throughout the joyous occasion and was reflected in the delectable dishes.  Luckily for those who missed out, you have a year to work up an appetite for the next festival; I can promise you it will be worth the wait.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted November 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Peace EDF Folks!

    We greatly appreciate the support that you have given to the Gullah/Geechee Nation. Also, on behalf of the "Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association," I thank you for this outstanding report concerning the event! We are already praying for plenty of seafood to be harvested for the crowds of hungry folks that will attend next year! We are getting messages from those that missed it already! :-)

    We look forward to more folks becoming GGFA supporters. Go to http://www.gullahgeecheefishingassociation.com to get in touch with us at any time.

    Tenki tenki fa cumin an hepin we!

    Peace,
    Queen Quet
    Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation
    Secretary, Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association

  2. Posted November 4, 2010 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    What a blessing to be with the Queen and the Gullah Geechee people in their native land. The air seems fresher, the communal ties are closer…it's the closest i can get to my roots without flying back to Summerfield, Jamaica. The Queen's family naturally includes everyone in the community..my new friend Dr. Joye Hardiman, Fulbright Scholar and expert on Classical African History and I were trying to find Queen Quet's compound around dusk, and let's just say it wasn't where I thought I remembered it. So we're driving along the solitary roads, where the live oak trees are covered with moss, and actually meet overhead, creating a tunnel effect, and have no idea where we are. And we're just chatting and enjoying each other. Then we stop at a convenience store and ask the men outside if they know where the Queen lives. Need I say that they led us there, thank you, Ronald! But not before he called Queen to verify that she wanted to see us. And that's the spirit i treasure, where people are known and loved and valued and protected, and two "strange" women have no issues about following two black men into the woods at dusk..it gets better from there…