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5 things to know about the Beaufort Water Festival (some of the best things are free)

Here's a sneak peek at the 2018 Beaufort Water Festival's headliner — Granger Smith

Country singer Granger Smith will headline the 2018 Beaufort Water Festival's concert in the park. Here's a preview of his music.
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Country singer Granger Smith will headline the 2018 Beaufort Water Festival's concert in the park. Here's a preview of his music.

Don't mind the extra activity in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park this week.

The army of volunteers working to produce the 63rd Beaufort Water Festival will be setting up for the coming festivities. The festival begins Friday with the traditional fireworks and a performance by the Parris Island Marine Band.

Anyone who wants to help set up can report to Waterfront Park during allotted times — 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; and 8 a.m. until noon Friday, the festival posted to its Facebook page.

Gates open at 6 p.m. for Friday night's events.

As the festival approaches, here are some things to know about this year's event.

Some of the best things are free

While you'll have to pay for tickets to some of the nightly entertainment, many of the festival's most popular events don't cost a thing.

Take in the opening fireworks and Marine band performance, tour shrimp boats and wander the arts and crafts market each day. There's no admission for Children's Day on Sunday, and the event features a variety of kids games, shows and bounce houses.

The second annual Hometown Tuesday event, started last year as a celebration after the area endured Hurricane Matthew, features live entertainment from Steel Rail Express.

During the festival's closing weekend, watch the bed race, annual downtown parade and air show without cracking your wallet.

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Photos during the 61st annual Beaufort Water Festival parade, air show and Change of the Watch ceremony on Saturday, July 23, 2016, in Beaufort. Delayna Earley dearley@islandpacket.com

The concert performer has an alter ego

The headlining act for the Water Festival's premier event has a flair for acting.

Country artist Granger Smith also performs as a more countrified alter ego, Earl Dibbles Jr. It's Dibbles you can thank for calls of "yee yee" sure to be heard during Saturday's concert.

Smith used the phrase while firing a shotgun in one of his early videos as Dibbles. Fans quickly latched on.

The singer trademarked the phrase, and the words can be found on T-shirts, caps and even energy drinks for sale on Smith 's website.

So how will you know when Dibbles has taken over the show?

"Earl always has to have overalls and a white tank top," Smith said during a 2015 radio interview. "He's actually never been filmed without that."

This year's commodore is ...

Stacey Canaday, a longtime Beaufort Water Festival volunteer.

Canaday's husband, Chris, is a past commodore. The couple is the first husband and wife to head the event.

The Beaufort native and attorney has volunteered for the Water Festival the past 15 years.

Her experience began as a Pirette during the early 1990s. She joined the festival in 2002, assisting with Children’s Day. She took over the event the following year.

“It’s time management, it’s people management ,” Canaday said last year of leading the festival. “It’s being flexible, letting things roll with the punches. That’s a hard thing for anybody to learn. It’s a necessary component.”

Stacey Canaday speaks about her feelings on being announced as the 63rd Beaufort Water Festival Commodore and the fact that she and her husband, Chris Canaday, are the first married couple to both be given the honor of being commodore.

Find a parking spot, shuttle in or hang out in the water

Parking is available at metered spots throughout downtown, including lots at the marina, Beaufort County Library and 500 Carteret St. Meter hours are from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

A free shuttle from the Beaufort County Government complex on Ribaut Road is available for several events, including opening ceremonies and the headlining Concert in the Park.

Those who don't want the stress of finding parking downtown can take in the festivities from the Beaufort River sandbar or tie up for free at the city's new day dock that opened in May.

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Beaufort's new day dock as seen on Thursday May 3, 2018. The dock will open this Friday and will be free for public use. Stephen Fastenau sfastenau@beaufortgazette.com

There is still time to help

The festival is operated entirely by volunteers.

In addition to setting up this week, organizers say help is needed throughout the 10-day festival.

Those wishing to volunteer can sign up via a link at www.bftwaterfestival.com/volunteer. Working extra shifts can earn festival goodies like T-shirts and event tickets.

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