For the freed slaves who left Ossabaw Island and the Hinder Me Not Baptist Church for a waterfront area in southern Savannah, Pin Point was more than just land.
“They looked at Pin Point as like the Garden of Eden,” says the Bishop Thomas J. Sills. That’s why they called their church at Pin Point Sweetfield of Eden Baptist Church, which, at about 130 years old, still stands. “It was their piece of paradise.”
The 7th Annual Pin Point Seafood Festival celebrates Pin Point—Pin Point style. Locals open their land off Moon River for people to taste authentic flavors of its ancestors who lived off the marshland.
“Now people get to taste the authentic taste of Pin Point,” says Sills, who pastors Sweetfield of Eden and started the festival seven years ago.
Taste fried shrimp, fried fish, fried crab, smothered shrimp, salmon croquette, seafood gumbo, deviled crab, and Sills’ favorite, smothered shrimp and grits. The dish includes onion, bell peppers and shrimp in gravy and sometimes other meat. It’s a recipe from a direct descendant of a Pin Point resident.
“All that is authentic Pin Point,” Sills says.
National-level entertainment—and old school American R&B vocal group the Force MDs and American R&B singer Cherrelle—is why the price is $15 this year. The cost for children ages 10 and younger is $7. Entertainment will also include local artists like Mrs. Huxsie Scott.
As usual, a shuttle will pick up people parking up and down Pin Point and Bond avenues.
Festival goers must buy tickets to purchase food from venders. About 18 venders will serve food, including Pin Point originals such as Bertha’s Sunday’s Best run by descendants of Bertha Mae Godfrey who worked at Pin Point’s A.S. Varn & Son Oyster Seafood factory.
The event is like a family reunion. Longtime residents and friends meet at the festival. John Henry Haynes Jr., whose knowledge of the area is “mind blowing,” according to Sills, may be there, as well as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ mother Leola Williams, an active member of Sweetfield and the festival.
“She doesn’t miss it,” Sills says.
Some descendants still speak the Gullah Geechee dialect, according to Sills.
Pin Point is special because of the sense of freedom and independence it gave to former slaves who settled there. Some Pin Point residents embrace that significance, according to Sills, and “really understand the power of what they inherited.”