Beaufort News

Shrimp festival offers crowd jumbo fun

Q on Bay restaurant's Austin Muniz takes a batch of freshly fried shrimp out of the oil Saturday afternoon during the 17th Annual Beaufort Shrimp Festival at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
Q on Bay restaurant's Austin Muniz takes a batch of freshly fried shrimp out of the oil Saturday afternoon during the 17th Annual Beaufort Shrimp Festival at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. Sarah Welliver/ The Beaufort Gazette

Sitting on a ledge inside Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, Joe Johnson of Lady's Island had a look of satisfaction on his face as hundreds of residents and visitors filed him past Saturday.

"I've been coming down here for this event for the last few years, and it's always pretty well-attended," Johnson said. "But I can't ever remember it being like this. I don't ever remember seeing this many people downtown for anything not related to the Water Festival. It's a great day for Beaufort."

Johnson was one of thousands who flooded into the park Saturday for the final day of the 17th annual Beaufort Shrimp Festival, an event hosted by Main Street Beaufort USA to promote the local shrimping industry and provide exposure to downtown restaurants and businesses.

The event kicked off Friday night with the opening of a craft market in the parking lot of the Downtown Beaufort Marina, an evening concert and a number of local eateries offering dishes featuring the festival's namesake crustacean.

Saturday's events included a morning 5k run, children's shrimp peeling competition and the Sea Island Rotary's 3rd annual Rubber Shrimp Race, which pits thousands of numbered, plastic shrimp against one another down a quarter-mile stretch of the Beaufort River.

Though festivalgoers enjoyed the day's festivities, it was clear that the food Saturday was the star of the show.

"This is a really great event for Beaufort, and is a celebration of what we in South Carolina are all about. Good times and good food," said Elaine Wisner of Myrtle Beach, as she chowed down on a basket of fried shrimp.

The final day of the festival also featured some star power.

"Wheel of Fortune" letter turner-- and Myrtle Beach native -- Vanna White signed autographs for a few hours Saturday as part of a promotional event for the state lottery's new Wheel of Fortune instant ticket game.

Neal Johnson of Burton was one of many who met White on Saturday and admitted to being a little starstruck.

"I've watched that show for so many years and to meet her here of all places was a little shocking," Johnson said. "She is even more beautiful in person."

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