Heritage Day Festival cancelled due to lack of interest from local schools

Queen Atterberry taught students about African drumming during the African American Heritage Day Festival in 2013.

The Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission announced on Friday afternoon that the African American Heritage Festival scheduled for Feb. 26 at Wannamaker County Park has been canceled.

The commission said in a statement that it could not support this year’s festival, which has been held annually during Black History Month since 2007, because there were not enough school groups registered to participate. It’s the first time the commission has had to cancel the event.

The festival is one of the commission’s standards-based history and social studies programs intended for middle and elementary schools’ field trips. Last year, more than 800 students attended the event that focuses on the history of enslaved Africans and their descendents in South Carolina through storytelling and interactive demonstrations.

“We had a great crowd at the 2015 event, but unfortunately, we just haven’t had many school groups register this year,” said Sarah Reynolds, the public information coordinator of the county parks. “Due to the limited interest in the festival in its present format, CCPRC will be exploring ways to improve or expand the festival to make it more diverse.”

The commission is hosting another event centered on African-American history in the Lowcountry at the end of the month. There will be a roundtable discussion at McLeod Plantation Historic Site from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 27 about the latest research conducted on the site that reveals how enslaved Africans and their descendents expressed resistance to oppression, ultimately leading to the development of Gullah culture. That event, however, is intended for mature audiences age 14 or older.

For more information, or to register to attend, go to charlestoncountyparks.com.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail