Of all the Beaufort Water Festival's annual events, local dance instructors Erin Demers and Heather Gwin consider the talent show one of the most welcoming -- for both the young performers and spectators.
"It's the one time our students get to shine for their entire community," Gwin said as she stood backstage with the students she helps teach at Studio B Dance Co. in Beaufort. "Everyone embraces the kids and their talents."
Hundreds packed the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park Wednesday for the festival's 37th annual talent show.
After stormy weather brought last year's competition to an early end, organizers were happy to see clear skies as singers, dancers and even a pianist took the stage.
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Among those competing was Wennie Rodriguez, who performed "Sonata" on the piano.
The 7-year-old from Seabrook has played piano for two and a half years and practices three times a day, she said backstage.
In a floor-length pink dress, Rodriguez earned loud applause and went on to take home the first place prize for her division.
"It felt really good," Rodriguez said of her time in the limelight.
Local chapters of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority have been organizing the talent show since it began in 1974. The sorority's Preceptor Omega Chapter has headed those efforts for the last 22 years.
Sorority member Dee Gonzalez said the group's love of the event keeps them coming back year after year.
"This is one of the most well-attended events during the entire festival," Gonzalez said. "It's truly a night for the whole community."