Good news: By all accounts, the 58th Annual Beaufort Water Festival was a grand success.
Better news still: That success is being measured.
The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and the University of South Carolina Beaufort surveyed about 300 festival-goers on their spending habits, length of stay and reasons for coming.
It's part of an effort to measure the impact of the area's major events to help market them better. The data also help officials make more informed decisions about allocating public resources, such as law enforcement and bed tax grants.
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The Water Festival has long drawn residents to downtown Beaufort; less certain was how many out-of-towners came. A full accounting of ticket sales and results of the survey are not yet complete, but preliminary results find the festival draws a healthy mix of local residents and visitors. It was the main reason that 20 percent of visitors came to Beaufort last week, and 42 percent said the festival influenced their decision to visit. Fifty-four percent said they stayed longer because of it.
Regardless of its economic impact, the festival is an important part of life in Beaufort. It celebrates one of the area's great assets -- its waterways and the fun and beauty they provide. It's also a source of community spirit, manifest in the Herculean effort of about 500 volunteers to stage the event.
With that in mind, we congratulate 2013 commodore Dan Thompson, his crew and city employees. We also send best wishes to 2014 commodore Brandy Gray as she takes the festival helm.