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Riceboro raises agrarian past

Ricefest brings community, cultures together

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POSTED: November 18, 2009 9:46 a.m.
Photo by Frenchi Jones/

Spike Davis, who has performed his comedy on the BET network highlighed the entertainment at Saturday's Ricefest in Riceboro.

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The smell of fried chicken, barbecued pork, sweet potato pie and a variety of rice dishes wafted through Saturday’s summer-like air as the city of Riceboro celebrated its third annual Ricefest.   
The event, held near Riceboro City Hall, drew a large crowd of people who seemed to have an appetite for food, culture, history and fun.
 “This is an opportunity for a lot of people who attend different churches and who may not get to see each other, for such a rural community, to come together like this and remember,” said Mary Beth Evans, executive vice president of the Laconte-Woodsman Foundation.
Julie Martin, a Riceboro native, agreed with Evans.
“Ricefest is a celebration of a culture that is no longer with us, it has gone through a lot of changes through the years, but this has brought a lot of people back together and it’s a wonderful celebration,” she said.
Rice, according to Evans, was the true reason for the occasion.
She said it accounted for more than one-third of the wealth on Georgia’s coastal plantations and gave the city its name and place in history.
“Because [Riceboro] is so swampy and marshy, it wasn’t good for a lot of other crops but it was very good for rice cultivation,” she said. “That is where the city of Riceboro gets its name and today we are celebrating that.”  
In addition to learning about and tasting several varieties of rice and rice dishes, committee member said festival-goers were entertained by cultural acts and treated to numerous free, educational booths and activities.
“We had [comedian] Spike Davis and we’re excited to have him. We had the Sea Island Singers who are a regional group and … Michael Helix’s jazz was just the bomb today and we really enjoyed that,” said Ricefest committee member Phyllis Tucker, of SNF holding company.
“Our goal was to really bring about a sense of community. We wanted to bring families together and bring back the old Geechee culture.”
Tamia Lloyd said the festival did just that for her.
She and her daughter Laniya, 2, enjoyed face painting at Hampton Island’s booth.
“I came last year and learned a lot about the different cultures and places we originated from, and the things that happened in the past,” Lloyd said. “We just enjoy it. It’s just a good time for the family.”
 

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