Just add water: Lee Brice headlines the Beaufort Water Festival
30 Jun 2011
Looking back, it’s almost impossible to believe that the Beaufort Water Festival started, decades ago, as just a simple regatta. Sure, the inaugural festival in 1956 featured the Commodore’s Ball, the Regatta Ball and a beauty pageant, but those amusements hardly hold a candle to the fleet of events that now surround the festival, considered by many to be the anchor of Beaufort’s social calendar.
But no matter how many shows and sporting events and bed races are added to the event, it all comes back to one thing: the water. All the razzle-dazzle and spectacle is there to serve as window dressing to the majestic Beaufort River.
The festival takes to the waves with a bevy of events, including the Raft Race, the Children’s Toad Fishing Tournament, tours of Coast Guard cutters and shrimp boats, a presentation by the Lowcountry Estuarium, the Gatorland Ski Show and a sailing regatta — and that’s just on the first day, July 16. The next eight days are filled with maritime fun, including boat bingo and a blessing of the fleet to close out the festival.
Landlubbers take note, though: Festival organizers haven’t forgotten about you. The golf, softball, horseshoe and volleyball tournaments have all passed us by, but there’s plenty more where that came from. Competitive types will want to prove their stuff at the bowling tournament (July 10-11), bocce tournament, badminton tournament (July 16), croquet tournament (July 18) and the final rounds of the cornhole tournament (July 23).
And in between all those events you’ll find an arts and crafts market, a talent show (July 20), the Water Festival Grand Parade and air show (both July 23) and, of course, the famous Bed Race (July 22), in which competitors tear down Bay Street on decorated hospital gurneys while spectators use an arsenal of squirt guns and water balloons to ensure no one crosses the finish line unsoaked.
And even with everything the Water Festival has come to mean for Beaufort, it still ends on the water, with the traditional Commodore’s Ball (July 23) and Blessing of the Fleet and a parade of boats (July 24).
BEAUFORT WATER FESTIVAL MUSIC LINEUP