The Guinea Heritage Association’s Fall Fundraising Event
The Guinea Jubilee, like a blue crab, has gone through several sheddings—periods of growth and change. What began in 1979 as a four-day celebration of the Guinea community has evolved into the Guinea Heritage Association, a non-profit organization committed to giving back to the community through scholarships, cultural activities, and a museum.
The first Greater Guinea Jubilee was held in the parking lot of the shopping center everyone referred to as “Plaza Pharmacy” (the shopping center is now home to the Hayes Post Office). The following year, 1980, the event was cut back to two days, and the committee crafted its purpose “to honor and celebrate the way of life in Guinea Neck.” For the 1981 event, Buck Rowe served as the first Grand Marshal.
By 1992, the Jubilee had grown too big for its shell, spilling across the street (US Route 17) to use the Food Lion parking lot and attracting people from the surrounding communities. To safely accommodate the crowd, the Abingdon Ruritan Club offered their grounds. This change signified the Jubilee’s move closer to the center of its community and saw the first fireman’s parade. Soon, the festival became known as Gloucester ’s Fall Event and began offering posters and signed, limited edition prints that artistically documented the community’s heritage.
1995-1996 was a vulnerable year for the Guinea Jubilee Committee. It shed its long-time home in the back room of Plaza Pharmacy to meet in a larger space. The group’s vision for the future included incorporating, so the Greater Guinea Jubilee became the Guinea Jubilee, Ltd. During the 1996 fall celebration of the Guinea Jubilee, the documentary They Live in Guinea was shown at Waterman’s Hall, VIMS. By the summer of 1996, the organization again changed its name, with the event being the “Guinea Jubilee” and the “umbrella” parent organization becoming The Guinea Heritage Association, Ltd., (GHA) to emphasize its charitable and educational purposes. Organizing in this manner, The Guinea Heritage Association was soon granted federal tax exemption. The Association had its first Board of Directors and the Guinea Jubilee Committee served under the GHA to continue the annual celebration and fund raiser for the community.
Just shy of its twentieth year, a deed of gift was recorded to the Guinea Heritage Association for the parcel of land known as “the old Studebaker dealership” It is located at the corners of Mark Pine and Guinea Roads in Bena, just across the street from Buck Rowe’s Store and the Bena Post Office. As we participate in the annual Guinea Jubilee celebrations, we are a part of an organization that, in its humblest beginnings, has at its heart the preservation of the history and values of the unique community we know as Guinea.