Thousands pack park to kick off 57th annual Beaufort Water Festival

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comJuly 13, 2012 

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Joshua Stone, Band Officer for the Parris Island Marine Band directs their performance during the opening ceremony for the 57th annual Beaufort Water Festival Friday evening inside the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

SARAH WELLIVER — Sarah Welliver

  • TODAY'S EVENTS

  • Festival art and craft market: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Promenade, Waterfront Park

  • Raft race: 9 a.m., Waterfront Park. $185 for entry fee for commercial businesses, $145 for military and non-profit organizations.

  • Bocce tournament: 9 a.m., Waterfront Park. $40 entry fee per two-person team.

  • Sponsors' expo: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Waterfront Pavilion. Free.

  • Children's toad fishing tournament: 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Waterfront Park. Free for kids 12 and under. Bring your own rod, reel and tackle. Bait will be provided.

  • Coast Guard cutter tours: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Waterfront Park. Free.

  • Lowcountry Estuarium: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Waterfront Park. Free.

  • Shrimp boat tours: Noon - 4 p.m., Waterfront Park. Free.

  • Badminton tournament: 11 a.m., Waterfront Park. $30 entry fee per team.

  • Gatorland Ski Show: 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., Beaufort River, Waterfront Park. Free.

  • Sailing regatta: Noon - 1 p.m., registration. Instructions available at registration table at Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club. 1 p.m., competitors meeting. 2 p.m., warning for first race; other races to follow.

  • Dragon Boat exhibition: 4 p.m. - 5 p.m., Beaufort River, in front of Waterfront Park seawall. Free.

  • Concert: 8 p.m. - 11:30 p.m., Waterfront Park. 7 p.m., gates open. 8 p.m., show. Chuck Courtenay opens for James Otto. No strollers allowed. Tickets, $20.

  • To view a gallery of photos from the 2012 Beaufort Water Festival, click here.

Places to sit or stand Friday night in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park were almost as scarce as empty parking spots in downtown Beaufort as thousands celebrated the return of a much-beloved local tradition.

The park was packed for the opening night of the 57th annual Beaufort Water Festival, an event that featured remarks from local dignitaries, a performance by the Parris Island Marine Band and a fireworks display over the Beaufort River.

A gentle breeze blew Friday as festivalgoers jockeyed for the best place on which to plant folding chairs and blankets to take in the night's festivities.

The cool weather was welcomed by many, especially after more than a week of triple-digit temperatures and stifling humidity.

"It's like Mother Nature knew how miserable we would all be if it was 100 degrees," said Darla Caplan of Beaufort. "I can't say I would have been all that excited to come out here and bake in the sun. I might not have come if it was as hot as it has been lately."

The 10-day festival continues today with a full slate of events that includes an evening concert in the park featuring country music artist James Otto.

Hope you didn't miss: A flyover by the Werewolves of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122.

In a tight diamond formation, three pilots flew their F-18 Hornets low over Waterfront Park to the delight of festivalgoers, many of whom lifted their cell phones and digital cameras to capture the moment.

The roar of the fighter engines temporarily drowned out the singing of the National Anthem but the crowd didn't seem to mind, loudly cheering as the jets soared overhead.

Better not miss: Country music artist James Otto.

Waterfront Park will be packed tonight with country music fans as Nashville, Tenn., singer James Otto helps celebrate the start of the Water Festival with a concert.

The festival's annual Concert in the Park is from 8 to 11:30 p.m., according to organizers.

Volunteer of the day: Alan Langford, Productions Coordinator.

If it's happening on stage at the Water Festival, Langford likely made it happen.

As productions coordinator, Langford, a patrol supervisor for the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, books the bands and oversees all aspects of the festival's nightly entertainment.

Langford has been volunteering with the festival for the last eight years, he said.

Socially speaking: "As we get ready to kick off the 57th Water Festival, can't help but think Keith Cummins is watching over us all from above and is very proud of his friend, John Gentry, for putting on the best Water Festival Ever! Wonderful article about Keith and the Water Festival family in (Friday's) Gazette. Check it out and have a Richard Norris tissue ready when you do!" -- former commodore Erin Dean, via Facebook.

Related content

  1. Beaufort Gazette's Water Festival page
  2. Official Beaufort Water Festival page

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