“Fantastic” Summer Festival; event exceeds organizers’ expectations

Published 4:20 pm Monday, June 12, 2023

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for the Washington Daily News

 Organizers at the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce say they couldn’t be happier with the results of this year’s Summer Festival which, this year, became a 40-year tradition.

 “I’ve never seen as big a crowd as was there on Friday night,” said chamber Assistant Director Robin McKeithan, a veteran of the most recent 13 events. She said estimated attendance was between ten and twenty thousand for the weekend event, which offered its customary mix of music, food, fireworks, a wide variety of merchandise, and community spirit that she said is the backbone of Beaufort County.

“We had more than 70 vendors this year – 38 of which were local, 15 of those being nonprofits. This was our first this year with a fly-over by the Bandit Flight Team,” McKeithan added. Regular attractions included a Friday afternoon performance by Craig Woolard and the Embers, a dance exhibition Saturday by members of the Solina Dance Studio, and Friday night’s fireworks at the waterfront. 

 Final totals are not yet confirmed, but McKeithan said that Summer Festival is the most crucial as well as probably the most popular fundraiser held by the Chamber. “We are a member based nonprofit, not a city or county government that can benefit from tax income. We have to raise all our own funds through membership dues and fundraisers like Summer Festival.”

 McKeithan said the lift in attendees’ spirits is just as valuable as any income record this year’s event might have accomplished. “It was amazing when Craig sang “God Bless the USA” and then “God Bless America” just as the flight team flew over us and headed for the waterfront. Everyone was very focused on the planes. Everything got real quiet. It practically went silent,” she said. “Between patriotic music, airplanes and fireworks, that was definitely the ‘moment’ of the weekend.”