It takes dozens of volunteers with a variety of titles to put together the Beaufort Water Festival every year. Chris Canaday spent time as assistant treasurer, treasurer, sponsors coordinator, sales and admissions coordinator, parks coordinator and sports coordinator before taking on the role of program coordinator in this, his 11th year of volunteering.
“My wife, Stacey, actually volunteered for two years as the chairperson for Children’s Day before I became involved,” Chris explains. “I attended a Water Festival crew picnic with her and when Jack Little, who was the event treasurer at the time, said he was looking for an assistant, I said I would do it. I’ve been a Beaufort Water Festival volunteer ever since that day.”
As program coordinator, Chris oversees the other nine coordinators on staff. His experience in many of the positions comes in handy as he offers assistance and guidance as they each work toward meeting the individual requirement of their respective positions.
Born and raised in Beaufort, Chris says he can’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s possible, though, that Port Royal comes in a close second to Beaufort. Chris spends his days as the finance manager for the town of Port Royal. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Financial Management from Clemson University, a Master of Science degree in Sports Administration from Florida State University and he’s a Certified Government Finance Officer through the Government Finance Officers Association of South Carolina.
In addition to his wife Stacey’s involvement with Water Festival (this year she’s serving as the productions coordinator), Chris’s dad was a Water Festival volunteer when Chris was young. But it was under Chris’s watch as sports coordinator last year that the family’s most interesting Water Festival story occurred.
As Chris tells is, “The last Friday of Festival is the day of the Bed Race where one person sits on a hospital bed/gurney and four runners push the bed down Bay Street for about a quarter mile hoping for the fastest time. Last year a big storm rolled in just as the Bed Race was finishing. In the downpour/water spout that ensued, someone actually made off with two of the beds! Don’t know how or why, but they did.”
Chris and Stacey are parents to Hayden, age 11, and Rowan, age 7. Both boys attend Riverview Charter School. The family enjoys boating and spending time at the beach.
With his heart in Water Festival, Chris encourages others to get involved with the Beaufort community. “Have fun. Volunteer for the right reasons. Remember that what we do is about the community and not us as individuals. If you aren’t having fun and you are just looking to pad your resume, get out. Water Festival volunteers are like one big family. We are there for each other through thick and thin. We have the best volunteer crew ever! And I cannot wait for next year!”