Less Traveled

Page Ivey



Water, water everywhere at the Beaufort Water Festival

Posted 7/18/2013 3:08:00 PM

Beaufort is fairly surrounded by water and the tides set the schedule of daily life for shrimpers, fishermen and others who make their living on the water.

That past and present is celebrated each year with the Beaufort Water Festival.

The 10-day festival kicks off Friday (July 19) with opening ceremonies and fireworks show and includes cornhole, croquet and fishing tournaments as well as live music and arts and crafts displays.

There is something for everyone.

The arts and crafts market will be open from noon to 7 p.m. each day of the festival at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, which runs along the Beaufort River as it wends its way through downtown. The walkway has many historical markers and swings for sitting and enjoying the river. It is a wonderful way to walk among the city’s shops and restaurants.

The opening day events, including music and fireworks, are free, but some events during the festival, such as the Commodore’s Ball during the closing weekend and dances during the week, required paid admission ranging from $10-$25.

The opening Saturday includes a raft race, a badminton tournament and DragonBoat racing. In a dragon boat, 20 paddlers sit side-by-side in a 40-foot boat decorated like a dragon. They paddle in unison to the beat of a drummer, creating the heartbeat of the dragon. A sweeper, or steerer, is at the rear of the boat.

In Beaufort, the teams were inspired by a documentary about cancer survivors using the sport for wellness.

Opening weekend concludes with a concert in the park on Saturday and a teen dance on Sunday.

Weekday festivities are centered on different themes each day, such as Motown Monday, Tropical Tuesday and Talent Show Wednesday. There also are free shrimp boat tours each day from noon to 4 p.m. and a river dance on the second Friday.

On the final Saturday, a street parade kicks off at 10 a.m. downtown with the Commodore’s Ball that night. On the final Sunday is the blessing of the fleet and a parade of boats starting at noon.

The festival ends at 3 p.m. Tickets for paid events can be bought online until midnight the day before each event. Online tickets can be picked up at the will-call tent next to the marina from 4-7 p.m. each day except the opening Friday, when tickets can be picked up from noon-6 p.m.