Opening Ceremonies Start of Busy Weekend at Beaufort Water Festival

Chris Canaday is comfortable in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, surrounded by like-minded volunteers preparing to host another marathon celebration of Beaufort’s love affair with the water.

But he admitted to some uneasiness in one of his roles as Beaufort Water Festival commodore — public speaking.

“That’s the one thing that’s hardest for me,” Canaday said amidst a series of media interviews this week in Waterfront Park. “But I understand that’s what comes with wearing the red pants.”

Canaday, in his 12th year as a festival volunteer, will have to steel himself again Friday during opening remarks to kick off the 61st Water Festival. Opening ceremonies will include the Parris Island Marine Band and fireworks and lead into a full slate for the weekend.

An arts and crafts market, badminton, bed races and children’s fishing tournament are on tap Saturday. And Saturday night is the headline event, a concert featuring Canaan Smith and LOCASH.

“It’s an experience like no other in Beaufort,” Canaday said. “It’s a 10-day festival that has been going on 61 years.

Think about that. How many other festivals have been going on 61 years? Coming down to the Water Festival is like a piece of history.”

And to combat any anxiety about his public duties, Canaday has crafted a go-to slogan.

“This is becoming my tagline — I’d just like to invite the Beaufort community to rendezvous by the river with me,” he said. “I’m sure we’re going to have some fun in the sun for 61.”

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