Beaufort businesses see boost from the return of the water festival

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - The 65th annual Beaufort Water Festival ended Sunday night. After being canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was busier than ever this year.

For local business up and down Bay Street in Beaufort, the last 10 days brought tons of customers. So many that anyone trying to get a table for dinner would have to wait up to two hours on the weekends.

“This Water Festival was definitely the busiest in years and I’m sure it’s because last year was canceled because of coronavirus, but the people were out,” Operations Plums Inc. Director Jennifer Mader said.

Mader, who runs operations for three restaurants on Bay Street, says it helped out all local businesses.

“It really brought the hospitality industry as a whole, I think it really kind of lifted us all up and realized like, ‘Hey, we’re still here,’” Mader said.

Just down the road, Kevin Cuppia, owner of Modern Jewelers, was the festival’s commodore a while back.

“1996, a few years ago. Just a couple years,” said Cuppia.

And having owned a business here for over 40 years, he knows better than anyone how big the festival is for the bottom line.

“The financial boost is always helpful. Sometimes you just don’t realize what you’re missing until you’ve got it back, so we’re so glad to have it back. We saw a big increase this year, one of our best Water Festival weeks ever,” Cuppia said.

While 10 straight days with a lot of customers is great for business, these employees are exhausted.

“I was just making a joke I said, maybe all Bay Street businesses should take the Monday after Water Festival off because I think today maybe the most Monday-est Monday ever,” said Cuppia.

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