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The best time of the year is here!

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Photo above: The Beaufort Water Festival’s opening ceremony is free to the public and always crowded as festival-goers pack Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park to hear the Parris Island Marine Band. Photos by Bob Sofaly.

What you need to know for the 2017 Beaufort Water Festival

Yay! It’s time once again for the hugely popular Beaufort Water Festival at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, which will be held daily from Friday, July 14, to Sunday, July 23.

The 62nd annual outdoor event is sure to be a hit, with the regular events back for another year of fun and entertainment, including the always moving opening ceremonies, Motown Monday, the Teen Dance, the Talent Show and the Blessing of the Fleet.

There will also, of course, be plenty of entertainment, arts and crafts, events for children and lots of outdoor sports (bocce, badminton, rafting and more).

New this year is a special concert on Thursday featuring hometown girl Candice Glover, season 12 winner of “American Idol.”

So, what have we learned over the years?

First, parking. The early bird gets the best parking spot, so go early if possible. Several churches, banks and other businesses allow parking in their lots for a fee (the closer to the park, the higher the fee). New this year is a free shuttle service from the Beaufort County Government Center for some of the evening events.

Also, remember to bring sunscreen and drink plenty of water. There are few places to get out of the sun and dehydration can quickly become an issue. EMS paramedics will be more than happy to assist if you need help.

As most festival-goers know, the Beaufort Water Festival has a storied history.

The first festival was held in July 1956, with John Bigbee serving as the first president and Gladys Thompson in charge of the visiting queens. The Lions Club put on the first parade and has been doing so every year since.

“In the early days of the festival, it cost 50 cents to attend the Beauty Pageant, one dollar per couple to attend the Water Festival Ball (which was later changed to the Commodore’s Ball) and two dollars to attend the Regatta Ball,” according to beaufortwaterfestival.com.

“The first weekend featured two days of sailboat races and the Regatta Ball. The following weekend began with the Beauty Pageant on Friday where the Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands was crowned. The parade and ski show, put on by the Beaufort Water Ski Club, and an air show highlighted the second weekend, in addition to the Water Festival Ball. 

“As the years went by, the festival began to draw more and more people to Beaufort from other parts of the state and on a national level. ”

And it certainly has something for everyone. So rain or shine, we’ll see you there!

Marge Barber, left, squirts butter on her corn while volunteer Joe Lee, right, help her husband John during the annual Lowcountry Supper at Waterfront Park at the 2016 festival.
Marge Barber, left, squirts butter on her corn while volunteer Joe Lee, right, help her husband John during the annual Lowcountry Supper at Waterfront Park at the 2016 festival.

The raft racing team from Decibel Church cheer after a victorious run of 35.52 seconds near the sea wall of Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park at the 2016 Beaufort Water Festival.
The raft racing team from Decibel Church cheer after a victorious run of 35.52 seconds near the sea wall of Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park at the 2016 Beaufort Water Festival.
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