Local Events

Spoleto in Beaufort? Charleston partnership will bring popular festival to town

What attendees liked best about A Taste of Beaufort

Attendees talk about what they like about the 17th annual A Taste of Beaufort Music, Arts & Seafood Festival, which was held on Saturday, May 7, 2016, at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
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Attendees talk about what they like about the 17th annual A Taste of Beaufort Music, Arts & Seafood Festival, which was held on Saturday, May 7, 2016, at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

An annual Beaufort event will have some Charleston flavor this spring.

Beaufort plans to partner with the Holy City to mesh elements of Charleston’s popular Spoleto Festival with the annual Taste of Beaufort in May. The Beaufort foodie fest, featuring fare from numerous local restaurants, will now include musical performances from Beaufort and Charleston musicians at venues throughout downtown.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg will take the stage with local musicians for a jazz performance to open the festival, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said this week.

The mayors are longtime friends and have talked about a partnership for the past few years, Keyserling said.

“We’re too close not to share resources and promote each other,” Keyserling said.

Plans are still being made by city event staff and its cultural district board for the expanded Taste of Beaufort, which will be held at various venues downtown May 3-4.

Keyserling said the collaboration would pull from the Piccolo Spoleto festival, a companion event run by the city of Charleston to the better-known, 17-day international Spoleto festival held in the city each year.

Plans come as Beaufort and the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce spar in federal court over control of the city’s popular festivals, including Taste of Beaufort.

The nonprofit business group sued the city last year over ownership and operation of the Beaufort Shrimp Festival and Taste of Beaufort, saying its constitutional rights were violated when it was denied a permit in July to operate the shrimp event and objecting to the city registering the names of both festivals with the state.

City officials have said chamber leadership has been unwilling to reach a solution.

Beaufort employed downtown events staff to organize a promote what the city billed as a bigger and better Beaufort Shrimp Festival in October.

Keyserling’s announcement of the Spoleto partnership in his weekly newsletter told visitors to prepare for “a better than ever” Taste of Beaufort.

Tecklenburg and Keyserling have been allies on several recent issues affecting both coastal areas, including opposing offshore oil drilling and exploration and planning for rising sea levels. Beaufort has also patterned its technology incubator, the Beaufort Digital Corridor, after a successful initiative in Charleston.

Stephen Fastenau covers northern Beaufort County as a reporter for The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet, where he has worked since 2010 and been recognized with state and national awards. He studied journalism and political science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and lives in Beaufort.
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