Beaufort Water Festival

Beaufort Water Festival will be here soon. Here's what you need to know.

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.

Summertime is almost here, which means it won't be long until an annual quintessentially Lowcountry celebration in downtown Beaufort.

The 63rd Beaufort Water Festival starts July 13 and continues through July 22., but some events are already getting started. A Paddle Battle will take place Saturday morning at Parris Island Boat Landing, and a sailing regatta is will be held May 27-28.

The main event starts with fireworks and Parris Island Marine Band for opening ceremonies July 13. All of the traditional Water Festival events return, plus a free Hometown Tuesday event instituted in 2017 after Hurricane Matthew.

Country artist Granger Smith headlines the popular Concert in the Park on July 14.

Stacey Canaday, the 63rd commodore, heads up the army of volunteers who run the festival.

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.

Outside food, drinks and coolers aren’t allowed in the park during the Water Festival. And leave strollers at home during the Concert in the Park. Because of the large crowd, the strollers are a safety risk and get in the way of those moving around, organizers say.

Blankets and chairs are a smart idea. To ensure a good seat, get in and set up near the stage early. The park is closed for an hour before the gates open, so set up before the gates close or soon after they open for the best seats.

Here are some other important things to know as the Water Festival approaches, including parking and ticket information and a full schedule.

Getting there

Most events are held at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in downtown off of Bay Street.

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 to brave the parking crunch have a new option. The city's new day dock opened in May and offers boaters a free place to tie up near the east end of Waterfront Park.

Tickets

Tickets for the nightly events are sold at the gate but also available online at www.bftwaterfestival.com for pickup at will call outside the main gate starting an hour before the event. Organizers encourage people to buy tickets in advance for the Concert in the Park, guaranteeing admission if the park is otherwise at capacity.

Children 5 and younger are free.

When the Beaufort Water Festival's Blessing The Fleet event started 62 years ago it was primarily to bless the shrimp boats and to introduce the new commodore. Many local shrimp boats participated. Take a look at how the event has changed over t

2018 Beaufort Water Festival schedule

*Events in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park unless otherwise noted.

July 13

Noon-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.

7 p.m.: Opening ceremony. Fireworks and performance by Parris Island Marine Band. Admission is free. Gates open at 6 p.m.. Free shuttle service from Beaufort County Government Center.

July 14

8 a.m.- noon: Raft Race

9 a.m.-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.

9 a.m.: Bocce tournament, badminton tournament.

10 a.m.-noon: Children’s toad fishing tournament and sponsor’s expo. Tournament free and open to children 12 and under. Bring own fishing equipment. Bait is provided.

Noon- 4 p.m.: Free shrimp boat tours.

1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.: Ski show

8 p.m.: Concert in the park, featuring Granger Smith, John King and Walker County. Tickets are $30 and gates open at 7 p.m. No strollers, coolers or outside food and drink. Children 5 and under are free, and a free shuttle is available from Beaufort County Government Center.

July 15

9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.

9 a.m.- 1 p.m. River rally.

11 a.m.- 3 p.m.: Children’s day. Games, activities, shows, bounce houses and prizes. Free admission.

Noon-4 p.m.: Shrimp boat tours.

6 p.m.-9 p.m.: Teen dance. Ages 13-17, ID required. Tickets are $10.

July 16

10 a.m.-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.

8 p.m.: Motown Monday. Admission is $15, gates open at 7 p.m. Free shuttle service from Beaufort County Government Center. Children 5 and under are free.

July 17

10 a.m.-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.

8 p.m.: Hometown Tuesday. Entertainment by Steel Rail Express. Free admission. Gates open at 7 p.m.

July 18

10 a.m.-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.

7 p.m.: Talent show. Admission is $10 or free with an official 2017 62nd Annual Water Festival T-shirt. Gates open at 6 p.m. Children 5 and under are free.

July 19

10 a.m.-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.

6 p.m.: Lowcountry Supper. Cost is $15. Food served from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Entertainment by 20 Ride and Andrew Beam. Children 5 and under are free.

July 20

10 a.m.-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.

5 p.m.: Bed race. $25 entry per team. 4:30pm check-in. Same-day registration based on space.

8 p.m.: River Dance. $15 admission. Gates open at 7 p.m. Must be 18 or older. Free shuttle from Beaufort County Government Center.

July 21

9 a.m.-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.

10 a.m.-noon: Water Festival Grand Parade. Downtown Beaufort.

Noon-4 p.m.: Nonprofit Expo.

1 p.m.-4 p.m.: ​Air show. Free admission. Stunt planes, U.S. Coast Guard demo.

8 p.m.: Commodore’s Ball. Cost is $10, gates open at 7 p.m. Children 5 and under are free.

July 22

9 a.m.-3 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.

Noon- 2 p.m.: Blessing of the Fleet and Parade of Boats

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