18th annual Beaufort Shrimp Festival gives businesses a boost

emoody@beaufortgazette.comOctober 8, 2012 

This shrimping season might not be robust, but the Beaufort festival that helps celebrate it perked up business for local merchants and hotels this past weekend.

The Beaufort Shrimp Festival held Friday and Saturday at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park focused on food, music and fun. And the thousands of attendees meant a bounty for the downtown economy, organizers and business people say.

(VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE FESTIVAL)

According to local hotels:

  • City Loft on Carteret Street was booked solid this weekend. Last year, the 22-room hotel had five vacancies on the Friday of the Shrimp Festival and one on Saturday.

  • The Hilton Garden Inn was 86 percent full Friday and 85 percent full Saturday, compared to 62 percent and 53 percent, respectively, a year ago.

  • The Quality Inn on Boundary Street was 70 percent booked on both Friday and Saturday, compared to 45 percent last year.

  • Chamber executive director Blakely Williams said Monday she had not received a lot of feedback about the festival yet, but what she had was positive. Merchants said they were busy all weekend, and many of their customers were from out of town.

    Wilson McIntosh, owner of McIntosh Book Shoppe, described it as a "swell" Shrimp Festival. His sales were up compared to last year, and many visitors asked for Pat Conroy books.

    "If we get the traffic in downtown, we're going to sell them something," he said.

    Sales were up 20 percent compared to last year at The Craftseller, according to manager Randy Michelson. Friday and Sunday were especially outstanding, she said.

    At the Rhett Gallery, William Means Rhett III said there were a lot of sales, especially of smaller items, and customers and visitors kept the store busy all weekend.

    "We had tons of foot traffic," Rhett said. "It was just like Water Festival, and that's our busiest time."

    Although the festival ended Saturday, artist "Red Fish" Rex Hunter said it seemed visitors lingered longer in Beaufort. He spent much of Monday at The Gallery on Bay Street and said it was busy all day with tourists who stayed past the weekend. He joked the cool weather helped create a "Beaufort hangover" that encouraged people to stick around.

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