Published on October 6, 2021  in Business/Community/News  by newsbyteA Shrimp Fest smash: Event draws record crowds after a Covid cancellation

Above: Three thousand, nine hundred and forty-four plastic shrimp were released into the Beaufort River from the shrimp trawler Palmetto Pride during the annual Sea Island Rotary Club Shrimp Race with nothing more than the tide to carry toward the finish line. Photos by Bob Sofaly. 
By Mike McCombs 
If you could only judge by the number of people downtown and the lack of open parking spaces, the 27th annual Beaufort Shrimp Festival this past weekend at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park was all the rage. 
“I haven’t heard any sales numbers or counts or ticket sales, yet, but I think it was a big success,” Beaufort Mayor Stephen Murray said Monday. “We had good crowds, and the weather was beautiful, and the restaurant lines were busy. I think it went about as nicely as I think it could.” 
Apparently, it did. According to posts on the event’s Facebook page, this year’s festival set records with more than 5,000 people in attendance and more than 500 in Friday’s 5K ad walk.
Records or not, though, given that last year’s event was one of the many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be hard to argue that this year’s event wasn’t a smash.
“It felt great to get back out there,” Murray said. “It felt normal.”
Murray gave credit to the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Beaufort Area Hospitality Association, the S.C. Shrimpers Association and the Sea Island Rotary Club, as well as an army of volunteers. He also complimented the City of Beaufort’s team of “pros.”
“(Director of Downtown Operations) Linda Roper and the downtown operations crew, they know what they’re doing,” Murray said. “They are seasoned events professionals. It helps when you’ve got pros on your team.”
Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.