57th annual Beaufort Water Festival kicks off

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJuly 12, 2012 

BEAUFORT WATER FESTIVAL

  • Festival spokeswoman Stacey Canaday recommends those planning to attend paid events purchase tickets at www.bftwaterfestival.com to avoid lines.

    The "will call" hours for picking up tickets purchased in advance have changed. Tickets can be retrieved today between noon and 6 p.m. and other days between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the designated tent near the main entrance by the marina. A photo ID is required.

    In addition to parking downtown, patrons can park at the Beaufort County Government Complex at the corner of Ribaut Road and Boundary Street and take a free shuttle to the festival.



  • More on the Beaufort Water Festival

  • Columnist David Lauderdale notes that Beaufort is better off than when the first Water Festival was held 56 years ago, but we still need the annual summer rite to help us enjoy the scenery and the pace of Lowcountry life.

  • For updates, photo galleries and a roundup of social media chatter about the Beaufort Water Festival, go to www.beaufortgazette.com/waterfestival.

  • Throughout the Water Festival, get updates by searching for the Twitter hashtag #BeaufortH2OFest.

Everybody comes home for the Water Festival -- it's a citywide reunion -- Sydney Cummins said.

Cummins is among those returning to her hometown for Beaufort's largest and longest annual party, which kicks off today.

But she'll be missing a familiar face.

This year's festivities will include a nod to her father, 51st Water Festival commodore Keith Cummins, who died in February at age 55 after a struggle with cancer.

Sydney Cummins, a reporter for WLTX-19 television station in Columbia, will be a parade announcer on Saturday, a role her father played for many years.

"It's very special to me to be able to stand where my dad did and do the same things he did," she said.

Events begin at noon today with the opening of a craft fair. Gates open for the opening ceremony at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park -- which is free and will include a performance by the Parris Island Marine Band and a fireworks display at dusk -- at 6 p.m., with formal festivities to begin at 7 p.m.

Nine days of concerts, shows, exhibitions, food and activities will follow.

Conducting the Water Festival is a year-round effort, and current commodore John Gentry said Cummins provided almost daily support for him by phone until his passing.

"He would call me up just about every day and say, 'You having fun yet? You got to have fun, you got to have fun. Let your coordinators do their job. Don't micromanage,'" Gentry said.

The calls of support have been a tradition for several commodores. After Cummins died, Richard Norris, the 50th commodore, took his place. Norris and Keith Cummins announced the parade together for years, and Norris called Cummins' oldest daughter, Sydney, to help this year.

Although it will be an emotional week, she said she is looking forward to the support of family and friends -- and the anticipated fun -- that comes with the annual festival and returning to Beaufort.

That's exactly what Keith Cummins would have wanted, Gentry said.

"He would tell me from the start, 'Take it all in because it won't happen again, and it will go really fast,' " Gentry added. "He said, 'Enjoy every bit of it and take care of your volunteers.' "

About 400 volunteers are helping with this year's festival. The staff shirts have Cummins' initials, K.C., with the palmetto tree logo from The Citadel, his alma mater. Festival brochures also include a photo of Cummins dressed as a whistler character.

Related content

  1. Friends fondly recall Keith Cummins, 51st Water Festival Commodore, Feb. 15, 2012
  2. Surprising start planned for 57th annual Beaufort Water Festival, July 8, 2012
  3. Beaufort police ready for Water Festival, chief says, July 11, 2012

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