At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Steve Mendoza and his wife, Mae, of Beaufort, were lined up and ready to eat, even though it would be another hour and a half until they received their plate of shrimp, sausage, potatoes, onions and corn.
"I'm first in line, so standing here gets me in that much earlier than all those people back there," he said, laughing. "They're going to have a long wait."
Steve Mendoza held the couple's place at the front of a line that started in the Downtown Beaufort Marina and eventually stretched several blocks down Bay Street. While some people stood, others unfolded chairs and settled in to wait for the annual Lowcounty Supper of the Beaufort Water Festival .
Attendees paid $15 a piece for food and entertainment by bands Broke Locals and Too Much Sylvia. While some, like the Mendozas, held onto their chairs while in line -- in case they wanted to sit during the wait -- others arrived early to set up chairs and picnic blankets on the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park lawn.
Brothers Nicholas and Brandon Miranda scored the spot right behind the Mendozas. Nicholas Miranda said he had already set up a picnic spot in front of the stage for about 14 people who were meeting him.
"We move like a herd of turtles," he said.
He had been worried it would be difficult to find space for such a large group, and they wanted to be up front because they planned to stay to the end of the show.
Hope you didn't miss: The annual appearance of the Beaufort Whistlers, with a surprise guest. Since the 1980s, the previous four Water Festival commodores have dressed up as the singing and dancing group. The Whistlers drew faces on their stomachs and donned trash can hats as they perform "The Bridge on the River Kwai." This year, the Whistlers included 53rd commodore Les Brediger, 54th commodore Wilmot Schott, 55th commodore Sheri Little, 56th commodore Bob Bible and special guest 45th commodore Craig McTeer.
Better not miss: The annual bed race at 5 p.m. The Bay Street race starts at Harrington Street and ends at Newcastle Street. Check-in for competing teams is 4:30 p.m. Teams include four runners and one rider. Teams are encouraged to creatively and crazily decorate their racing beds.
Volunteer of the day: For more than a decade, Phyllis Fabian, 68, of Beaufort, has been taking tickets, collecting cash and checking wristbands at the gate to Water Festival. Fabian said she loves the opportunity to help raise money for the Zonta Club of Beaufort, a local chapter of an international women's club. The group receives a portion of the proceeds from the festival.
"And," she added, "I get to see a lot of people, some who I haven't gotten to see since last year."
The club is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has been working the gates for the last 20 years.
Socially speaking: "Perfect evening for the Beaufort Water Festival. Delish food, salty breeze, weird cover band, fam... Perfect," @meganwaz, via Twitter.
To see what others are saying about the Beaufort Water Festival on social media, go to www.beaufortgazette.com/waterfestival .
- Beaufort Gazette's Water Festival page
- Official Beaufort Water Festival page
- The Beaufort Gazette's story on Storify, a roundup of Water Festival news on social media and elsewhere around the Web