Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration

An annual festival that recognizes the Gullah heritage and its ties to West and Central Africa as well as the Lowcountry, the the Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration occurs this year from November 8 to 10 on St. Helena Island.

The three-day event is hosted by Penn Center, a museum and cultural center situated on the site of the first school for freed slaves established during the Civil War.
Heritage Days Celebration events will include an ‘Artist of the Year’ art exhibition, flags of the Gullah people, a fish fry and blues night, an old-fashioned prayer service, a Heritage Days symposium, a Saturday parade; an old-fashioned craft fair and center-stage entertainment.

Gate Admission Fees: Adults $7.00/Day, Youth (Ages 16-6) $5.00/Day, Ages 5 and Under Free, Group Rates Are Available

November 8th ~ 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Libation Ceremony
Flags of the Gullah Nations
Penn School Founders Memorial
"The Road of Remembrance" Theatrical Performance
Old Fashioned Prayer Devotional and Gospel Extravaganza
York W. Bailey Museum Art Exhibit Opening:
"Slavery by Another Name" Paintings and Assemblages

November 9th ~ 8:30 am - 10:00 pm
Heritage Symposium:
"Slavery by Another Name" THE DISCUSSION
Youth Day at Penn Center
and Visit New St. Helena Branch Library
USDA /NRCS Presentation and
Premiere of Film:
 "St. Helena - A Better Place"
Fish Fry, Oyster Roast, Crab Crack 8 The Blues
Craft Vendors, Food Vendors

November 10th ~ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Heritage Days Parade
Honors Program
Center Stage Entertainment
"Taste of the Sea Islands"
Author Book Talks 8 Discussions
Fishing Tournament Winners Announced
150th Anniversary Documentary Filming of
"Share Your Story"
Craft Vendors, Food Vendors
Evening Dance Sponsored by:
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Omega Alpha Alpha Chapter

November 11th ~ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Sunday Morning Worship Services
Local Churches


In addition to the annual Heritage Days celebration, Penn Center also hosts the Community Sing, held every third Sunday from September to May to highlight African-American tradition through song, and its Labor Day Celebration on the “Green” at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park.
Currently, the Gullah people live in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia. They represent the descendents of West and Central Africans brought to the region during the slave trade and are credited with preserving more African linguistic and cultural heritage than any other African-American community within the United States.
The Gullah people speak an English-based Creole language that contains many African words and significant influences from African languages in grammar and sentence structure. Gullah storytelling, cuisine, music, folk stories, crafts, farming and fishing traditions all can be traced back to strong influences from West and Central African cultures.

In 1861, Union troops freed the 1,000 slaves on Sea Islands, the first to be freed during the Civil War. Many of these freed slaves went on to serve in the Union Army’s First South Carolina Volunteers. Before the war ended, Pennsylvania Quaker missionaries traveled to the Sea Islands to create schools for newly freed slaves. Penn Center was the first school established and is located on St. Helena Island.

For more information,  visit or call (843) 838-2432.