North Carolina Rice Festival


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Genetic Syndrome and Genetic Disorder, 3D illustration of science concept. Colorful DNA molecule.

TeCora Galloway, Freelance Writer

The North Carolina Rice Festival stands as a cultural beacon to teach people about the culture of The Carolinas and of Gullah Geechee heritage, but it also gives the opportunity to trace your DNA back to specific ethnic groups/tribes and allows people to learn more about their specific African culture through African Ancestry.

Growing up African American, I often felt left out in having a culture because I did not have a non-English native language, I couldn’t relate to the colorful patterns and clothing associated with certain African countries, and I did not count the soul food dishes in my family as cultural foods specific to my ethnicity. The Rice Festival as a whole has widened my view of African American culture, and I have enjoyed learning about my heritage, but truly being able to put the finger on the country that my family is most closely related to would broaden my horizons even more.

I have tried DNA tests before, and though the genetic breakdown by regions was interesting, it gives multiple African countries instead of one main one, and there were no mentions of tribes.

African Ancestry’s DNA test would provide insight into the proximity of your DNA to the African Rice Coast, which, as told in the name, is the section of the continent best known for growing rice. This includes countries like Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

In addition to learning if you are from the rice coast, it also gives the opportunity to dig deeper into your ancestry and begin to embrace the culture of your tribe or country. This is particularly powerful, knowing that science has allowed us to “get back” the culture that seemingly disappeared during the slave trade. Having the opportunity to dress, sing and cook as my ancestors would have is something I dream of and is being made possible through The Rice Festival.

During the last Rice Festival in March 2022, around 50 people signed up for the DNA test. I encourage anyone curious to contact the North Carolina Rice Festival via their website

The next Rice Festival issue will go into more detail about the rice culture in plantations along The Carolinas and will include a few rice recipes to try during the harvest season. The Rice Festival for 2023 will be on March 3rd and 4th, 2023. Donations and or volunteers are welcome at