Story by Cpl Terry Haynes on 08/08/2019The 64th annual Beaufort Water Festival just drew to a close at Waterfront Park in downtown Beaufort, July 21.
The Water Festival is one of the Lowcountry's most popular events, where festivalgoers come together to celebrate the traditions and culture of the Lowcountry.
The opening day of the festival started with a literal bang. The Parris Island Marine Corps Band played for spectators before a barrage of fireworks were set off for all of downtown Beaufort to see.
"I've been in Beaufort since 1995," said Charlotte Gonzalez, the Operations Officer for Marine Corps Community Services South Carolina. "In all my years of coming to the Water Festival I have never seen this many people turnout for the opening night ceremony."
A time honored tradition in the Lowcountry, the first festival was held in July of 1956 and as the years went by the festival began to draw more people to Beaufort from other parts of the state of South Carolina and even on a national level.
"I know that a lot of people hold their reunions, plan vacations and other types of events in Beaufort during the Water Festival," Gonzalez said. "I think if anything that just speaks to the popularity of the festival itself and how important it is to the community."
The festival kicks off every morning with an arts and crafts market and as the day goes on the different days have different themes. Popular events include concerts, Motown Monday, the Commodore's Ball and a local favorite, the Lowcountry Supper.
"I volunteer with the Rotary Club and we serve close to 3,000 meals for the Lowcountry Supper itself," Gonzalez said. "We wouldn't be able to even host the supper if it wasn't for all of the volunteers for set up."
Since the beginning, volunteers have been the backbone of the Water Festival. This year was no different, over 400 volunteers from the Lowcountry, including over 170 Marines and Sailors with the Tri-Command, came to pitch in and make the Water Festival the special event that it is.
"I love all of the local festivals because it's where the community really come together," Gonzalez said. "I think a lot of the Marines and families get a chance to really learn what makes the community so special by going to these festivals. The local community and the Tri-Command are very reliant on one another and the Water Festival is a shining example of the things that we accomplish by coming together."