Just over the causeway from St Simons Island is the College of Coastal Georgia. It is a small, pretty campus with mostly commuter students. It is one of Georgia’s newest public colleges. I recently got to spend some time on the campus when Rachel and I represented the Monument at the International Fest.
The International Fest is sponsored by the Robert S. Abbott Race Unity Institute. The mission of the Institute is “fostering relationships between people of varying multicultural backgrounds.” At Fort Frederica National Monument we have a memorial to Robert Abbott and a small bust of him in our Visitors Center. So we have a connection to Robert Abbott.
But we were at the International Fest to represent the Gullah Geechee National Heritage Corridor. We are one site along the heritage corridor because of the Geechee presence on St Simons Island.
The International Fest had some of the same people we had at our Gullah Geechee Heritage Day. Shirley Hunter and Gregory Grant were both there with her paintings and his sweetgrass baskets. The Geechee Ring Shouters also performed. It was fun to see some people we knew from that event.
The International Fest represented more than just the black heritage in the area. There were students from China, Korea, Mexico, and Polynesia selling food and items from those countries. One of the booths sold cloth items made by Afghan women. Another local booth sold homemade soaps but the seller was from Scotland. Several international groups had booths including the local Filipino-American Association.
I stood at our booth and talked to the people who wandered by. Rachel sampled lots of food and flirted with some of the college boys. She even had one guy ask her for her phone number! Most of the college kids spent their time at the food booths and watching the entertainment. Lots of local people came and there was a nice children’s area for families.
The International Fest was a fun way to get out into the community and talk about what we do at Fort Frederica National Monument. I was surprised at the number of local people who had never been there or haven’t been there since a school field trip years ago. When I invited them, and told them it was free, they said they would be out to visit.