St. Simons Island has been celebrating the Georgia Sea Island Festival for nearly thirty years now. This is one of the most treasure Sea Island events of the year, where African American musical traditions and crafts meets southern comfort food of the coastal barrier islands. This is a one-of-a-kind festival that St. Simons Island and the state of Georgia take pride in every June.
Georgia Sea Island Singers
Nationally known and world renowned, the Georgia Sea Island Singers have been a highlight of the weekend since the festival on St. Simons Island was first organized in 1977 by original members of the group Mabel Hillary and Bessie Jones.
Many of the songs performed by the Georgia Sea Island Singers were handed down through generations. They were work songs sung in the fields, on the docks in Brunswick, or in rowboats on the sound. They were spirituals sung in African American churches and hummed by domestics working on the island. These songs formed the background tunes recalled by both blacks and whites who grew on the islands.
Supporting African American Heritage
The festival’s activities are sponsored by the St. Simons African America Heritage Coalition and included several booths and live entertainment for all to enjoy. Donations taken during the Georgia Sea Island Festival will go toward the restoration of the historic Harrington schoolhouse, which was built in the 1920s and used until school desegregation in the 1960s. Once restored, the Harrington School will serve as a museum to the island’s African-American heritage.
Sea Island events wouldn’t be complete without this great addition to festivals in Georgia! This year’s festival will be held June 4th from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm and on June 5th from noon to 6:00 pm under the live oaks at Gascoigne Bluff Park. For more information about the Annual Georgia Sea Island Festival visit www.ssiheritagecoalition.org, and keep a lookout for other great festivals in Georgia!