Beaufort businesses ready for Water Festival’s impact

Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 4:36 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT, S.C. (WTOC) - The 66th annual Beaufort Water Festival kicks off this weekend.

It’s one of the biggest events for the Lowcountry and a tourism leader in Beaufort said it’s the city’s most important 10 days. Some saying they expect this to be the biggest Water Festival ever.

Folks from all over the region come to Beaufort for the festival.

“We’ll have somewhere around 10,000 to 15,000 people just at the weekend events,” said Robb Wells, the president of Visit Beaufort, Port Royal & Sea Islands.

Those crowds come ready to eat and drink at local businesses like Rain N Bagels.

“Water Festival is definitely crazy, it may be a line up the sidewalk this year,” Rain N Bagels barista Page Finnen said.

To deal with that high demand, they’re popping out bagels as quick as they can.

“We just prep as much coffee, as much bagels as we can, extra bakes... extra people all the staff all the people we have.”

To make sure customers leave happy, it’s all hands on deck.

“We need everybody we can for staff.”

The employees here are preparing to be full steam ahead. Business is expected to be booming.

“The beauty of water festival is it’s about a $7,000,000 impact on the local economy.”

That’s particularly obvious on Bay Street. Paninis on the Waterfront looks at the park where much of the festival is held. The restaurant’s owner says they’re expecting all kinds of business.

“We have a lot of extra food coming this week so we can start prepping it all up today, tomorrow, going into the weekend,” Paninis on the Waterfront owner Paul Thompson said.

From paninis to pizza, there’s a wide variety of food to get ready. But having been here for 11 years, he knows what a lot of people are really looking for and he’ll be stocked of that, too.

“The only thing we’ll run out of is storage space, because we’ll have the wall of beer downstairs,” Thompson said.

He said July isn’t usually that busy because Beaufort isn’t a true beach town, but the 10 days of the Water Festival help his restaurant get through slower summer months.

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