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Washington Summer Festival kicks off the season

For 35 years, Washington has officially kicked off summer with the Washington Summer Festival. Friday is no different, as Beaufort County Schools let out just in time for the weekend’s entertainment.

At 5 p.m. Friday, the festival opens on Stewart Parkway with amusements, food, arts and crafts lining the waterfront. At 7 p.m., Washington native and beach music legend Craig Woolard takes the stage at Festival Park with The Embers, and the night’s festivities wrap up with fireworks at 10 p.m.

Saturday morning, the festival returns to action, this time with local entertainment in the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce parking lot, all-you-can-ride amusements between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and boat rides on the Little Washington Sailing School sailboats. Local country/rock group Rural Route Romance will provide musical entertainment from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

According to Catherine Glover, executive director of the Chamber, the festival is a mix of local and out-of-town, and always draws a large number of people to the waterfront.

“We say it has something for everybody. … We’ve got beach music on Friday night and also on Saturday night you get some country and rock,” Glover said. “We definitely have food and crafts. We try to make it more local; a lot of nonprofits use this as their major fundraisers.”

Sponsored by Nutrien, formerly PotashCorp, the event is geared toward families, and includes a mix of free and paid activities. A Carolina Hurricanes inflatable game the team sends for kids’ enjoyment and the LWSS boat rides are free, while the all-you-can-ride amusements are $20 for the five-hour window.

Glover said the long-running festival is a chance for children to get to know the town’s waterfront and its Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s kind of a kickoff for the summer, and kids get out of school Friday. It gives them a chance to get to the waterfront,” Glover said. “They might not understand what the Chamber does, but they understand the festival.”