Beaufort Water Festival means a lot to area businesses

Beaufort Water festival
The Beaufort Water Festival brings in an estimated 60,000 people and has a $7 million impact on our local economy. (ESPB photo)

Every year the Beaufort Water Festival draws well over 60,000 people to downtown Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park to celebrate Beaufort’s love and adoration for all-things-water related. For festival goers it’s all about friends, music, fun and the action on the water, but for local businesses the Water Festival means so much more. It can be a boom for Beaufort’s local businesses of every kind; from our quaint retail shops to our larger retailers. Hotels and B&Bs will have no or nearly-no vacancies, and even our local marinas see an upswing in docking and other related traffic.

Shops bring in extra supplies to meet the demand because it’s Water Festival time. Some businesses hire additional employees, reshuffle their staff, and even change business hours, because it’s Water Festival time. With the increase of both vehicle and pedestrian traffic, there’s an increase in local police presence as the Beaufort City Police Department assigns as many as 10 off-duty officers to the event.

The ten day festival is responsible for bringing in nearly $7 million dollars to our local economy, and that’s not small change.

It’s a pretty big deal.

“We see an uptick in business for sure,” said Paul Thompson, owner of downtown’s popular Panini’s on the Waterfront. “Water Festival helps us build on the good months we have in the springtime, after the slower winter we experience.”

“Oh for sure,” said Nan Sutton, owner of downtown’s Lulu Burgess. “We see lots more traffic during the festival and it’s always great to see all the new faces it brings to town each year.”

“All of our orders go up, our food orders double and so does our alcohol and wine orders, ” said Michael Stavac, co-owner of Luther’s Rare & Well Done.  “It’s an increase to our staff as well. We nearly have to double our staff during Water Festival.”

All agreed that the festivals we have here in Beaufort are important in stimulating the local economy. Stavac added that the money they will make during the festival will help offset their slower months like January and February.

Travel and tourism is a big industry for Beaufort County, providing more than 12,000 jobs. Travel is a broad and diverse industry employing a vast workforce, from hotel and restaurant employees to attraction, retail and real estate. Workers employed by tourism salaries also purchase goods and services that generate business for the local economy.

It’s a win-win. Especially at Water Festival time.

If you’re in town for the annual festival, please make sure you check out some of our small locally owned businesses both in downtown and around the Beaufort area. It means a lot.

Check out this year’s Beaufort Water Festival schedule here.