The City of Riceboro celebrates its annual rice festival with a schedule of events the second week in November. Nearly 5,000 people gather in the city to enjoy events that showcase the food, music, art, and history of the Gullah/Geechee people whose ancestors once worked on rice plantations in Liberty County. Other activities include exhibits, a youth essay contest, and a rice cook-off competition. The first RiceFest was held in downtown Riceboro in 2007 to commemorate the legacy of the Gullah Geechee people who have influenced the eastern coast of the United States from North Carolina to northern Florida through music, language, and food.
Each year the RiceFest has grown to offer form education, entertainment and empowerment for all who come. The RiceFest schedule of events now includes a youth essay contest, Riceboro GospelFest, Riceboro Homecoming Dance, RiceFest Parade, Rice Cook Off, and Festival Day. RiceFest Committee Members include community volunteers from the Riceboro community and the greater Liberty County area. Volunteer backgrounds include current professionals, retirees, veterans, City of Riceboro staff, and festival partner representatives.
- Chairperson: Gabelyn Stevens
- Chair: Pearlie Axson
- Administrative Support: Gabelyn Stevens & Lana Walthour
- Contract Coordinator: Debra Attical
- GospelFest Chair: Mayor Joe Harris
- Headliner Coordinator: Pastor Katrina Deason
- Homecoming Celebration: Stefan McIver
- Parade: Shirley Howard
- Rice Cook-Off: Joyce Green
- Sponsorships: Joseph Harris, Shay Jenkins, and Debra Attical
- Youth Essay Contest: Shirley Howard
- Youth Events: Sabrina Newby and Aminata Traore
- Vendors: Joseph Wynn, Stefan McIver, and Councilman David Miller
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the City of Riceboro canceled the 2020 RiceFest. The 2021 RiceFest is tentatively scheduled for November 12-14, 2021. If you are looking for an educational and entertaining event honoring the heritage of rice farming and the Gullah Geechee culture, then save those dates!
History of RiceFest
Jim and Pat Bacote, owners of Geechee Kunda Cultural Center and organizers of the first Riceboro RiceFest.
It All Began When...
Riceboro residents Dennis Fitzgerald and Henry Relaford discussed the need for a festival in Riceboro that would bring the community together to celebrate it's history. The two gentlemen met with Mr. Jim Bacote, co-founder of the Geechee Kunda Cultural Center in Riceboro to discuss their idea. As a scholar, educator, and preservationist of Africa culture in America, Mr. Bacote was interested in partnering with the City of Riceboro to create a signature event that would keep knowledge of the old ways alive.
The first RiceFest was held November 2007 with general funding from the City of Riceboro. The first festival was held at the Riceboro Youth Center. We were supported throughout the community and blessed with sponsorship by Hampton Island SNF Holding Company, Interstate Paper, Arnold Stafford Randolph Attorneys at Law, Lecounte-Woodmanston Plantation, Phatt Katz Productions Inc., American Legion, Georgia Power Company, Liberty County Board of Commissioners, Hampton Island Preserve, The Heritage Bank, Trinity Outreach Ministries, First Zion Baptist Church, All American Storage, Coldwell Bankers, Liberty County Coroner's Office, Sarah McIver and the City of Riceboro.
Annually, the festival was held the first and second weekends in November with various events to educate and entertain. The City of Riceboro continues to coordinate and serve as the main sponsor with other community partners providing monetary funds and volunteer hours. We look forward to growing the event to one of the largest Gullah Geechee gatherings in coastal Georgia while sharing the history of the city of Riceboro and its people.
RiceFest Through The Years...
Theme: "City of Gold"
RiceFest Essay Contest Winners were 5-6 grade Level Nyzariah Thomas, 7-9 grade level Keria Tate, and 10-12 grade level Journal Young.
Liberty RiceFest Pageant was held on November 5, 2016 at the Riceboro Youth Center. Coordinator was Mrs Juanita Lowery. Winners were Miss Liberty RiceFest Daniel Rose, Junior Miss Liberty RiceFest Emonee Conliffe, Little Miss Liberty RiceFest DaiYauna Kraft, and Baby Liberty RiceFest Zion Penny.
GospelFest was held on November 6, 2016 at the Riceboro Youth Center with guest appearances by Fellowship of Love Church of God in Christ, NuDirection, God's Anointed Wings of Faith, True Verses, and the Legendary Gospel Keynotes. Hosted by Shannon Lecounte.
Homecoming Celebration was hosted by Comedian Barbara Caryle and a special performance was done by Mr. Danny Clay.
Parade began at the Riceboro Youth Center.
Festival Day kicked off with a Welcome by Mayor Bill Austin and included performances by Mike Shaver & Ripped Pocket with headliner by Earnest Pugh and Mr. Clarence Carter. Yvonne Lambert was the host.
RiceFest Cook-off Winners were Meat & Rice Lynn Cannon, Vegetable & Rice Lynn Cannon and Seafood & Rice Rosemary Jones.
Theme: "Riceboro on My Mind"
Miss Liberty RiceFest Pageant was held Saturday, November 7, 2015 at the Riceboro Youth Center. The winner of Miss Liberty RiceFest was Destiny Lecounte.
We hosted our very first Gospel Fest and showcased the Gospel Keynotes on stage. Performances also included True Verses, The Grant Sisters, the Gospel Cousinairres, The Gift of Gab "God's Anointed Band," and God's Anointed Wings of Faith."
Homecoming showcased Special Formula Band.
Our annual parade kicked off at 9:00 am from the Riceboro Youth Center.
Festival Day kicked off with a welcome by Mayor Bill Austin featuring performances by Dakota, Michael Hulett and headliner Harold Melvin's Blue Notes. Yvonne Lambert was the host.
RiceFest Cook-off winners were Meat & Rice Henrietta Weaver, Seafood & Rice Brunell Terry and Rice Dessert Henrietta Weaver. Judges were David Clarke, Vanessa Kadailie and Mary Stimmel.
Liberty RiceFest Pageant Coordinator was Mrs. Lateshia Perouza and was held at Midway Middle School on November 7, 2015. The theme was "Blossoming Like a Rose, One Petal at a Time." Destiny Brown was crowned Miss Liberty RiceFest 2014.
Homecoming was held at the Riceboro Youth Center and entertainment was provided by Lady.
Parade took off at 9 a.m. beginning at the Riceboro Youth Center. Our Grand Marshal was Evangelist Lelia M. Williams.
Festival Day was November 8, 2014, at the Grounds at Riceboro City Hall. We had 44 Vendors. Entertainers included First African Baptist Male Choir, Comedian Marvin Hunter, Gullah Geechee Shouters Saxophonist Michael Hulett, Storytelling by Luciria Lucky Lovette and headliner was Cuba Gooding & the Main Ingredients.
RiceFest Cook-Off winners were Meat & Rice Lynn Cannon, Vegetable & Rice Burnell Terry, Seafood & Rice Rosemary Jones, and Rice Dessert was Henrietta Weaver.
Theme: "Treasure You"
Liberty RiceFest Pageant Coordinator was Mrs. Kathy Villafane. The theme was "Treasure You." Destiny Lecounte was crowned Miss Liberty RiceFest 2013.
Homecoming was held at the Riceboro Youth Center with guest appearances by Candace Woodson & the Dimino Theory.
Parade began at 9 a.m. The 2013 Grand Marshal was Mr. Jim Bacote
Festival Day kicked off with a welcome by Mayor Bill Austin featuring performances by First African Baptist Male Choir, Comedian Hurricane Andrews, Saxophonist Michael Hulett, Storyteller Luciria Luckey Lovette, Singer D'Shon, Ritno & Sabor, Abeni Dancers, Gullah Geechee Shouters and headliner was Jeff Floyd & Band. Yvonne Lambert was the host. We had 55 vendors.
Rice Cook-off winners were Meat & Rice John B. Peavy, Vegetable & Rice John B. Peavy, Seafood & Rice Rosemary Jones, and Rice Dessert Lynn Cannon.
Theme: "Hometown Pride"
RiceFest Pageant & Step Show Showdown was hosted by Mr. Anthony Johnson and the coordinator was April Torres. Winners were Miss Liberty RiceFest Latisha Young, Jr Miss Liberty RiceFest Khloe Villafane and Little Miss RiceFest Kiera Tate.
Homecoming was held at the Riceboro Youth Center with entertainment by Michael Hulett.
RiceFest Parade Grand Marshals were Henry Relaford, Matthew Green, and Henry (Fred) Wilkins.
Festival Day kicked off with a welcome from Mayor Bill Austin. Entertainers were Abeni Dancers Storyteller Luciria Luckey Lovette, Gullah Geechee Shouters, First African Baptist Church Male Choir, Comedian Tony Tone and headliner Lenny Williams. Yvonne Lambert was the host.
Rice Cook-Off was not held this year.
Theme: "The Past, The Present, and The Future"
Liberty RiceFest Pageant was coordinated by Mrs. April Torres. Miss Liberty RiceFest winner was Miss Antonette Moore and Jr Miss Liberty RiceFest was Tierra Stevens.
The 2011 Talent & Step Show was held at Midway Middle School and the winner was Bradwell Step Team. It was hosted by Jamie "380" Barrett.
Parade Grand Marshals were Henry Relaford, Stella Fitzgerald, and Dorothy Brunson.
Festival Day was on November 12, 2011 and kicked off with a welcome by Mayor Bill Austin. Entertainers were Abeni Dancers, Comedian Willie Brown & Woody and headliner Michael Hulett. Yvonne Lambert was the host.
Rice Cook-off winner were Meat & Rice Martha Jones, Seafood & Rice Georgia Mobley, and Rice Dessert Lynn Cannon.
The Step Show Competition was hosted by Jamie "380" Barrett. Snelson-Golden Middle School was awarded first place and second place was awarded to Lewis Frasier Middle School.
The first RiceFest pageant was coordinated by Bianca Croft, Gabelyn Stevens and Debra B. Frazier. Sadrina Sampson was crowned Miss RiceFest. First Runner Up was Mikia Frazier and Second Runner Up was Tyshajuana Stevens.
Homecoming was held at the Riceboro Youth Center.
Parade began at 9 a.m. at Riceboro Youth Center. Our Grand Marshals were Riceboro's Centenarians Mrs. Mary L Baggs and Mrs. Dorothy Brunson.
Festival Day was November 13, 2010 and kicked off with a welcome by Mayor Bill Austin. We had 52 vendors. Entertainers were Michael Hulett, Reginald "Bruh Man" Bullard, Purified Soul Band, Gullah Geechee Shouters, First African Baptist Church Male Choir, Storyteller Luciria Lucky Lovette Lovette and headliner Darian Perkins. Charlotte Norman was the host.
Essay Contest Winner was Mikia Frazier.
Step Show Competition was won by Snelson-Golden Middle School.
Festival Day was November 14, 2009, and kicked off with a welcome by Mayor Bill Austin. We had 44 vendors. Entertainers were Storyteller Luciria Luckey Lovette, Coastal Youth Theater of Voices, Sea Island Singers, Abeni Cultural Arts Dancers, Gullah Geechee Shouters, Saxophonist Michael Hulett, and Comedian Spike Davis. Charlotte Norman was the host.
Essay winner was Mikia Frazier.
Festival Day kicked off with a welcome by Mayor Bill Austin. Dawn Baker and Charlotte Norman were hosts. It included entertainment by Storyteller Luciria Luckey Lovette, Darien Shouters, Savannah Folk Society, Comedian Willie Brown & Woody.
Rice Cook-off judges were Henrietta Weaver, Cornelia Walker Bailey, and Paul A. Paskins.
Essay contest winners were Javier Monica and Mikia Frazier. Topic was, "Rice Culture."
- Liberty County CVB
- SNF Holding Company
- DS Smith
- Hinesville Housing Authority
- Bath Fitter
- Navy Federal Credit Union
- The Heritage Bank
- Georgia Power
We could not host this event without our sponsors and partners. You can be a sponsor too! Your generous donation will contribute to providing this educational and cultural event in Liberty County, GA featuring nationally recognized educators, vendors, and artists. Contact us and we will be in touch soon.