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We're sorry to say...
We have to cancel this year's Festival due to inclement weather conditions
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THE NORTH CAROLINA RICE FESTIVAL attracts families, history enthusiasts, educators, tourists and residents alike to the Leland, North Carolina (Brunswick County), area to learn about and celebrate the region’s rich and diverse cultural history of rice farming. The Board of Directors of the North Carolina Rice Festival, Inc. (NCRFI) is dedicated to supporting efforts to preserve and promote the history and culture of our area, both within and beyond the planned Festivals.  

Our Mission

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To create an annual, self-sustaining event that can educate and entertain attendees while exposing them to the unique rice-growing culture of Brunswick County and its surrounding locales.

To focus on Brunswick County's past as the top rice-producing region in the state of North Carolina.

To explore the cultural connections between our coastal locale and the Rice Coast of Africa.

To showcase the region's unique status as the northernmost area of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.

The North Carolina Rice Festival: A Brief History

A Bushel of Rice
  • Founded in 2014 by W. C. Lanier, a local community event organizer

  • Festivals were held in Belville, North Carolina, for three years

  • In June 2017, the rights to the Festival were purchased by the Leland (NC) Tourism Development Authority (LTDA)

  • In May 2019, a new 501(c)(3) organization—the North Carolina Rice Festival, Inc., chaired by George Beatty Jr., was created for the purpose of planning and hosting North Carolina Rice Festivals annually and granted full rights to the festival name and brand from the LDTA

  • LTDA scheduled a Festival for October 2019, but canceled the planned event due to Hurricane Florence


  • In March 2020, the new festival organizers (NCRFI) hosted the first North Carolina Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Gala Dinner in Leland, but the Festival could not be held due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • During 2020, the NCRFI produced two video-documentaries focusing on rice cultivation and foodways that were publicly screened in 2021.

  • March 2022: The second Gala Dinner was held and the inaugural North Carolina Rice Festival took place in Leland.

  • In March 2023, the NCRFI added a new event to its activity lineup: a DNA-based, “Ancestry Reveal” program, held in Navassa, NC. The 3rd annual North Carolina Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Gala Dinner took place once again in Leland, and a much-expanded Rice Festival was held for the first time at the Brunswick Town/Ft. Anderson state historic site in Winnabow.

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