Beaufort Water Festival

Bay Street
Beaufort, SC 29902


The first festival was held in July, 1956 with John Bigbee serving as the first President and Gladys Thompson in charge of the visiting queens. The Lions Club took the job of putting on the first parade and has been doing so every year since.

In the early days of the Festival, it cost fifty cents to attend the Beauty Pageant, one dollar per couple to attend the Water Festival Ball (which was later changed to the Commodore's Ball) and two dollars to attend the Regatta Ball. The first weekend featured two days of sailboat races and the Regatta Ball. The following weekend begin with the Beauty Pageant on Friday where the Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands was crowned. The parade and ski show put on by the Beaufort Water Ski Club and an air show was the second weekend highlight in addition to the Water Festival Ball. All events were held on or adjacent to the municipal parking lot, and in case of inclement weather (we never use the word "rain" when speaking of the Festival), the pageant would move indoors to the Beaufort Elementary School and the Balls would be held in the Community Club.

As the years went by, the Festival began to draw more and more people to Beaufort from other parts of the State and on a national level. Events such as fishing and golf tournaments as well as a craft market, antique show, and art show were added to the line up so that the Festival had something to offer for every age and interest.

Over 400 volunteers work long hours to bring the events to the Festival. The Festival is able to offer our first class entertainment at such reasonable prices because of our loyal sponsors.

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