Beaufort SC Water Festival talent show for 48 years

In 48 years, the technology used at the Beaufort Talent Show has changed, laughs Marlene Handrinos, one of the original organizers of one of the annual Water Festival’s most popular events.

“Before, you had to stand there and find the right spot on the record,” Handrinos says of the backing music needed for the acts. “Everything was done by hand.

What hasn’t changed is the popularity of the show, which every year during the Water Festival draws thousands to Waterfront Park. Many of those who attend are friends and family members of the brave and talented, young and old, who have the courage to sing, dance, juggle or even ride a unicycle.

“It’s a family event and the park is usually packed that night,” says Handrinos. “There’s not even room to walk between people.”

The talent crowd at the 2016 Beaufort Water Festival at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. Delayna Earley

The 2022 Talent Show at the 66th Annual Beaufort Water Festival will take place Wednesday at 7 p.m. Admission is $10. Tickets are available at

The local talent show was started in 1974 as a fundraiser for Preceptor Omega, a chapter of the Beta Signa Phi Sorority, an international friendship network for women.

Handrinos, chapter treasurer and permanent resident of Beaufort, was involved in the organization of the Talent Show from the start. She saw it grow and become the flagship event it is today, rivaling in popularity with the big concerts of the Water Festival.

“I think more people are going to the Talent Show,” Handrinos says.

This year, 39 artists, who auditioned for the show in June, will take to the stage, competing in five age categories ranging from 5-9 to over 35 and all ages in between. Five judges will score them, from 1 to 10, on appearance, attire, stage presence and other attributes.

This year, more older acts are in the mix, Handrinos said, and there’s some exceptional talent.

“These are the people,” says Handrinos, “who really know how to sing and dance.”

Damayla Smith sings during the Talent Show Wednesday, July 20, 2016, during the 61st Annual Beaufort Water Festival at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. Smith placed first in the show’s 6-9 Individual Performance category. This year’s show is at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Delayna Earley

Everyone has two minutes to shine.

Mary Ann Borrmann, one of this year’s coordinators, said parents and grandparents often accompany children to their auditions. And parents can be with the young contestants behind the scenes of the show. Some artists come back year after year. Sometimes Borrmann will recognize an 18-year-old who played when he was 7.

“It’s just a lot of fun being honest with you,” Borrmann says of the show and helping to organize it.

When she first joined the sorority and started helping out with the talent show, one of Borrmann’s first tasks was to collect all the music the various acts would need during their performances.

“Some were records and some were tapes,” Borrmann says. “I had to put everything in place and give it to the soundman. Now I just call the sound guy and say, ‘Do you need anything?’ »

Amy Wilson hugs her daughter Belle, 6, while waiting backstage before she sings “God Bless The USA,” during the 60th Annual Beaufort Water Festival Talent Show at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort. This year’s talent show is Wednesday. Staff picture

Although all ages are represented, including a man and a woman in their 60s a few years ago, Borrmann says, the children “are adorable” and often steal the show. Students from area dance studios are regular performers.

And here’s a guarantee from Borrmann: “If you come to this talent show, you leave the park optimistic.”


Island Time Tuesday presents the Island Time Band, 8 p.m., $5.

This story was originally published July 18, 2022 1:07 p.m.

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Karl Puckett covers the town of Beaufort, the town of Port Royal and other communities north of the Broad River for The Beaufort Gazette and Island Packet. The Minnesota native has also worked at newspapers in his home state of Alaska, Wisconsin and Montana.

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