Festival organizer discusses the 25th annual event

By Warren Cobb | Managing Editor

The 25th Annual Folly Beach Sea & Sand Festival is coming April 10-11 with a weekend full of family-friendly events for this milestone anniversary. The Sea & Sand Festival is Folly Beach’s largest, longest-running and most family-friendly festival that features live music on two stages, a kids activity zone with jump castles, carnival games, face-painting and more, a silent auction, local art and food vendors, a full day street party, a pageant and a 5K run/walk.

The 25th Annual Sea & Sand Festival is a Folly Association of Business (FAB) event. A portion of the proceeds will benefit various Folly Beach community projects chosen by FAB. Sponsorships are still available.

Festival organizer Ben Bounds recently chatted with the Folly Current about what it takes to put on Folly’s longest-running festival.
Folly Current: How long does it take to plan the festival?
Ben Bounds:
The initial planning starts in August, but by November, we’re in full-swing working on the details and promotion. It probably takes a good bit longer than the average person thinks. Once we’re six-to-eight weeks out, it’s all hands on deck, pretty much a full-time job.

FC: Why is the 25th anniversary of the festival an important milestone?
For several reasons. First, the Sea & Sand Festival is the island’s longest-running annual event, predating Hurricane Hugo, so it’s kind of like the granddaddy of all Folly Beach Festivals. It’s also the island’s most family-friendly event, and has the most individual attractions, as well as being the island’s largest arts & crafts event of the festival season. Personally, I think it’s Folly’s most complete event from start to finish.

FC: Will there be anything new this year?
There are always a few new wrinkles each year. This year, the Coffin Island 5K will actually include a 10-block stretch of beach on its return route. We’ve brought in a mechanical bull, we’re using Bidr technology (mobile bidding software) for our silent auction, we have more local art and food vendors than ever before, and we’re doing a date auction after the street party. And, of course, we’re keeping a few things up our sleeve. Also, I think this is our best band lineup yet.

FC: Why is the Sea & Sand Festival important to Folly Beach?
BB: The Sea & Sand signals the end of the festival season and ushers in the vacation season. It’s one part grand finale and one part kick-off party. The longevity and staying power of the festival itself is a testament to the community and how we’ve come to define and cultivate our own traditions that are independent from those of Charleston. There’s so much community pride and support that goes into it each year, not to mention that we typically see visitors from 15 to 20 states here on the island for Sea & Sand Festival weekend. It’s rather climactic.

FC: Do you think this will be the “biggest” Sea & Sand Festival yet?
Of course, we’re always trying to outdo ourselves with each of our annual festivals, year in and year out, and Sea & Sand is no different. We’ve seen record crowds and attendance over the past three-to-four years, and that momentum seems to be growing. Now, with that said, we would like to remind our residents and visitors to assist us in keeping the island safe and clean during the festival. Be sure to dispose of trash properly, be kind to those around you, and if you’re planning to partake in some adult beverages, please be sure to enlist a designated driver or call a cab. We’re all in this together, and we want to be able to continue this tradition for another 25 years, at least.

For more information, see full Festival Guide on pages 10-11. Or go to VisitFolly.com, download the free Visit Folly app, find it on Facebook at Visit Folly, or contact festival director Ben Bounds at 408-6439, follybeachseaandsand@gmail.com or www.FollyBeachFestivals.com.

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