6 Things to Know to Make the Most of the Beaufort Water Festival

The 61st Beaufort Water Festival kicks off July 15 with opening ceremonies in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. The 10-day festival is a community tradition celebrating the best of Beaufort culture with food, family fun, water sports and live entertainment every day. Here are some essential things to know about the festival:

What’s different

  • The air show will go on, despite scheduled stunt pilot Greg Connell’s sudden, tragic death in May. Stunt pilots Mark Nowosielski and Mark Sorenson — a friend of Connell’s — have stepped in, and there will be a moment of silence to honor Connell, according to commodore Chris Canaday.
  • After a three-year run at the Beaufort Waterfest, Dragonboat Beaufort will not be a part of the festival this year. However, fans of the popular fundraising paddle races can see Dragonboats live in action on Labor Day weekend.
  • The water ski show is not on the schedule this year.

Who’s playing

Country music duo LOCASH, known for their single “I Love this Life,” will be headlining the 61st Beaufort Water Festival’s main concert event. Canaan Smith, an up-and-coming musician whose single “Love You Like that” topped country charts last summer, will be opening for LOCASH.

Gates open at 7 p.m. on July 16. Tickets are $25.

Other live music shows:

  • July 18: Deas Guyz
  • July 19: The Return (Beatles tribute band) with Broke Local
  • July 21: Too Much Sylvia with Eric Daubert
  • July 22: The Breakfast Club with Gump Fiction
  • July 23: The Band Punch

Weather

According to the National Weather Service’s weekend forecast, there’s a 40 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms in Beaufort on July 15 and 16. James Carpenter with the National Weather Service in Charleston said the highest chance of rain is in the afternoon July16, but that could change.

But marketing coordinator Erin “Hank” Morris said it is “very very unlikely” the show will be canceled. The Water Festival has a covered stage, so the show can go on if there’s light rain. In case severe weather rolls through, Morris said, the show will likely be delayed. In the event of a total rain-out, there will be no refunds.

Where to park and street closures

  • The festival provides a free shuttle service on Fridays and Saturdays from the Beaufort County Government Center to the Waterfront Park.
  • Parking lots behind Wells Fargo and BB&T banks downtown have parking for $10.
  • The First Citizens Bank parking lot on the corner of Bay and Charles streets serves as a handicap parking spot after business hours during the week and all day on the weekends.
  • Pay attention to parking signs to avoid getting towed. There is precedence for cars to be towed for illegal parking during the festival.
  • Street closures: Bay Street will be closed from Harrington to Charles streets for the bed race from 5 to 6 p.m. July 22. Boundary, Carteret and Bay streets will be closed from 10 a.m. to noon July 23 for the parade.

What to bring/what to leave

For the concert, you can bring lawn chairs and blankets and set them up in advance. The park will be closed for an hour before gates open for the show, according to the Beaufort Water Festival’s website. You can’t bring drinks, food, coolers or strollers into the park. You can purchase food and drinks at the facility, but you can’t leave with alcoholic drinks.

Can’t-miss events

The festival features 10 days of family-friendly fun.

“There is night and day for everyone, depending on what kind of music you like or if you have kids,” marketing coordinator Morris said. “ I would definitely not miss opening ceremonies, though.”

Here are a few highlights to note on your calendar:

  • July 15: Opening ceremony: 7 p.m., Waterfront Park
  • July 16: Concert in the Park (LOCASH): 7 p.m., Waterfront Park
  • July 17: Kids day: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • July 20: Talent night: 7 p.m. (gates open 6 p.m.), Waterfront Park
  • July 21: Lowcountry supper: 6 p.m., Waterfront Park
  • July 22: Bed race: 5 p.m., Downtown Beaufort at corner of Bay and Harrington streets
  • July 23: Grand parade: 10 a.m. to noon, Boundary-Carteret-Bay streets
  • July 23: Air show: 1 to 4 p.m., Waterfront Park
  • July 24: Blessing of the fleet and parade of boats: Noon to 2 p.m., Waterfront Park

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