Beaufort County Water Festival:
A Great Time For All Ages
In July “Beautiful Beaufort By The Bay” celebrates its great Sea Islands
heritage and present-day progress with Water Festival. Its official roots
began in the 1930's, when on-shore parties accompanied sailboat races on
the Beaufort River. The Festival also dates back to the antebellum era when
plantation owners raced barges on our Low Country waters. Then and now this
event draws huge crowds from all over to enjoy the fun and celebrate our
close connection to the water.
The home of Water Festival , Beaufort,
South Carolina, is the second oldest city in the state. Beaufort is nestled
on the coast between Charleston, SC (70 miles north) and Savannah, GA (45
miles south), and is just an hour's drive from the popular resort island of
Hilton Head. Beaufort is easily accessible from US Highway 17 or Interstate
95 (exits 38, 33 or 8). Many of the events take place in the Henry C.
Chambers Waterfront Park, a seven-acre recreational area in the heart of
the downtown historic district overlooking the Beaufort River. Other events
take place right on Bay Street in the center of the city. There is the
ever-popular street dance, parade and hilarious bed races.
Water Festival begins a week ahead of the opening ceremony with a golf,
horseshoe, fishing, billiards, bowling, and youth soccer tournaments. There
is also a kayak race. Opening night is free to all providing patriotic
entertainment by the Parris Island US Marine Corps Band and Fireworks over
the river. It is a spectacular evening with families and friends gathered
in this idyllic waterfront park with their lawn chairs and refreshment
purchases benefiting many community organizations.
Saturday is filled
with events such as craft fairs, toad fishing, tennis tournament, the
highly personal local challenge of the raft race, as well as a badminton
tournament, sailing regatta and water event show. This full day ends with a
concert in the park. Sunday offers the very popular River Rally event with
boats of all sizes tying up together on the sandbar in the river. Many
boaters from all over have enjoyed this event for years and it is most
definitely a huge part of local tradition during Water Festival. The
crafts, art, coast guard cutter, water event show, and Bocce Tournament add
to the fun of the day. A Teen Dance caps off the Sunday events.
children’s day and Community Service Agencies Appreciation night. The craft
fair and art show remains at the festival all week. Tuesday is always a
very popular day with the all-day croquet tournament and Reggae Night
entertainment. Wednesday provides another local favorite, the Talent Show.
This event showcases the areas finest performers on stage in the beautiful
Waterfront Park. Thursday continues with crafts, croquet and an antique
show and sale. The Low Country Supper and entertainment top off another
fabulous day. Low Country favorite cuisine, Frogmore Stew is served to
thousands. Frogmore Stew showcases our local favorites: shrimp and corn
boiled along with sausage and potatoes. It’s mighty fine local fare.
Friday night fun begins with the “Bed Races” down Bay Street. Teams push a
gurney with a rider down the main street of town. Although they wear silly
costumes and laugh most of the way down the street, this is serious
competition in this town. Friday night the street dance has locals and
visitors from all over dancing and conversing in the street. Southern
hospitality and small town fun define this special evening.
Saturday offers the Grand Parade in the morning, shrimp boat and Coast
Guard cutter tours, air show and Commodore’s Ball. Sunday is the closing
day but the fun doesn’t end. The Blessing of the Fleet and Parade of Boats
begins the day. Beaufort takes great pride in its Fleet of Shrimp Boats and
it is a spectacular event to see. This year there will be a free blue grass
concert in the afternoon with the events culminating with an air show by
Beaufort’s own Marine Corp Air Station.
All of this does not just happen. Many, many community businesses,
organizations and people volunteer huge amounts of time to make this annual
event an affair to remember. The incredible time planning this event rivals
major parades in that the day after Water Festival ends the committee is
already planning the next year’s events. Much praise and gratitude is due
to these fine men, women and teens of Beaufort. This is just one of the
many annual events which showcase our Low Country pride, heritage and just
plain love of fun. Come enjoy the hospitality of this small historic but
mighty little city. You’ll come back again and again.
For more details
about events, contact
Beaufort County , P.O. Box 52,
Beaufort, South Carolina 29901
or call 843-524-0600