We’ve all seen them. Most street corners in Charleston showcase men and women intricately weaving the baskets that are an integral part of Charleston’s unique history and culture. Oftentimes, little boys will run up to you trying to sell their sweetgrass flowers for just a few bucks. I, of course, am a sucker for putting a smile on their faces and bought a few of them. I love any and all sweetgrass baskets, and if I had more money, I would likely decorate my entire house with them…no joke. This is a picture of my little ode to Charleston. I’ve had the small basket since I was about 8 years old when I went to the Charleston City Market for the first time, and last summer I bought the little pineapple at the Market as a symbol of hospitality.
These baskets signify the rich African influence in Charleston’s history. Through oral history of the African slaves, the basket making technique can be traced to their home in West Africa. The history of culture and lifestyle during the time of slavery has been preserved by their descendants living on Lowcountry plantations, largely through dialogue during basket making sessions. While you can find an array of basket weavers along Highway 17, in the Charleston City Market, and outside churches, this Saturday, June 4, you will find the most extensive showcase of sweetgrass baskets in the Lowcountry area. The annual Sweetgrass Festival will be held at Waterfront Memorial Park on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.
The Sweetgrass Festival celebrates the rich Gullah Geechee cultural heritage and features unique handmade arts and crafts, paintings, live performances, and documentary films. You will have the opportunity to experience gospel and praise dance, storytelling and Gullah Geechee skits, basket-making demonstrations, and the Adande African Drummers and Dancers. You can also experience a variety of authentic Gullah cuisine, as well as other food, from Lowcountry restaurants and food vendors.
Admission and parking for the event are FREE! I am so happy that I attended some Spoleto events, but I am really looking forward to going to a free day-long event. So, bring your sunscreen, bug spray, water, and an open mind! For additional information, please visit the festival’s Web site at http://www.sweetgrassfestival.org.