Another year, another Beaufort Water Festival down. Judging by the crowds, it looked to be a success. Thankfully.
I have not been to a Water Festival in several years because, well, I live here. Don't get me wrong, I love that it exists. I appreciate tourists and the money they bring in, and I understand how important the Water Festival is to the community. But if I wanted to listen to an '80s cover band sing Kajagoogoo's greatest hits while a drunk couple makes out five feet away from me, I'd ... well, I don't want to see that. Which is why I stay home.
I know I am in the minority (not about Kajagoogoo, about going to the Water Festival), which makes my decision to avoid the crowds even easier. I root from the sidelines, ready to jump in the game if it looks like the team needs me.
In fact, far from wanting less Water Festival, I'd like to see more. I'm not talking about extending it (its already runs from May to mid-July, longer than the WNBA season), but, rather, broadening its reach beyond downtown Beaufort.
When has variety ever been a negative? Why not have multiple entertainment venues, especially on the weekends, with an event on Hunting Island or an outdoor movie at the Highway 21 Drive In or a concert in Port Royal or a clam bake in Habersham?
It seems to me, the point of the event growing from a weekend to what it is now -- the first event is May 21 -- is to expand its reach in the community and squeeze more under its umbrella. But why can't we just get a bigger umbrella?
Or, here's a novel idea -- sure to get my "Beaufort" card revoked in some parts -- the Beaufort Water Festival should hold an event in Bluffton (does it have water?) or on Hilton Head Island. I hear Hilton Head has a lot of tourists in the summer.
Oh, wait, that's right, even though we share a county, Beaufort and Hilton Head are completely Hatfields/McCoys or Athens/Sparta or Gargamel/the Smurfs.
This makes no sense, by the way. I get why Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando hate each other -- they're neighbors and offer the same product. We don't. No one comes to Beaufort because they want great golf or a resort experience, and no one visits Hilton Head looking for history or Southern charm. It's like Walmart duking it out with Applebee's.
And wouldn't it be nice to remind all the tourists on Hilton Head that, just 45 minutes away, is this really cool festival going on? Wouldn't it behoove us to entice them to come visit, on the promise that we have an actual downtown and parks and everything? We could even offer some sort of water transportation, just to make things easier.
I'm sure there are logistical problems -- not to mention financial, legal, common sense, good judgement and clear thinking issues -- but if the Beaufort Water Festival were to look to expand out, its continued growth would be guaranteed.
And even if we can't bear to make it a Beaufort County Water Festival, we can start with venues nearby, such as Port Royal or Frogmore or Parris Island.
Because, let's face it, Bay Street isn't getting any larger. But, I hope, the need to find additional entertainment and venues for the Water Festival is.