Port Royal says farewell to October Fest, ahoy to 'Festival of the Sea'

October 6, 2010 

  • • Port Royal Town Council members discussed the agenda for next week's regular meeting. Council will hear a final reading on rezoning 1.28 acres at 631 Robert Smalls Parkway from a mixed-use designation to general commercial use. Members also will hear a final reading on turning over about 70 feet of right-of-way property on 10th Street to residents to offset new sidewalk construction costs. Residents who take ownership of the property will pay 50 percent of the construction cost, Town Manager Van Willis said.

The Port Royal Old Village association is saying good-bye to its traditional October Fest event and replacing it with a new festival organizers say is more representative of the area's history and culture.

"Port Royal has flown under seven different flags -- Germany was not one of them," Nancy Harris Vista, the association's chairwoman said. "We thought we needed to do a festival more representative of what Port Royal is, which is essentially an old fishing village."

The new "Festival of the Sea" slated for Oct. 16 will feature local seafood, local arts and craft vendors, a wine bar and beer wagon, live music by local band Snazzy Red, boat displays, the annual antique car show, a shark's tooth hunt and fishing demonstrations. The free festival runs from noon to 5 p.m.

Organizers will set up a sand beach area near 8th Street and Paris Avenue, where the festival will be centered.

But the main focus, Vista said, will be on the Lowcountry Estuarium, which will have educational exhibits, cast net demonstrations and activities for kids.

A portion of the festival's proceeds will go to the Estuarium, Vista said.

"People in our area often take for granted this wonderful thing we have, not just the Estuarium, but our entire sea life," she said. "We wanted to do something that emphasizes Port Royal's history, but the Estuarium also needs support."

Town Manager Van Willis said the association is scheduled to ask council for about $4,000 to help fund the festival.

After a work shop Wednesday, council members said they would wait to hear the association's presentation before deciding whether to allocate the money.

"Anything that will help the businesses, we want to support," Mayor Sam Murray said. "We need as much foot traffic as we can get."

At one point, Old Village Association volunteers had decided the October Fest -- traditionally held the third Saturday of October -- was "just too much work for the number of people we had to help," Vista said.

But it wouldn't be October in Port Royal without a festival, she said.

The Festival of the Sea will not extend down Paris Avenue toward Ribaut Road as far as the October Fest has in past years, said Vista. She said "things will be a little bit tighter and more centralized in one area."

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