Festival brings kick-off to beach season

A group of young surfers inspect their boards before jumping in the water Sunday. (Chris Hauff/WCIV)

By Chris

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) -- Saturday's rainy weather subsided just in time for the second half of this year's Folly Beach Sea and Sand Festival. Throughout the past 22 years, the early spring festival has turned into an unofficial kick-off to beach season.

Thousands of people kicked back in the sand with plenty of entertainment to keep occupied. Sunday morning started with a Surfers Healing surfing competition. Following the surfers was the second annual sand sculpting contest.

"Some families, some amateurs and some professionals, they're all building sand castles on the beach," said Vince Perna, the sand castle commissioner for the day.

According to festival officials the attendance this weekend was better than expected.

"It's amazing how many people have shown up," Perna said.

The increased flow of folks into Folly Beach also helped boost local sales. Employees at McKevlin's Surf Shop said their door didn't shut all day.

"We were really busy," said Heather Wall, a McKevlin's sales associate. " We were packed and sold lots of flip-flops and board shorts and rental surf boards."

Wall says beach season actually started for them nearly three weeks ago, when the weather first started to warm up.

The increase in business doesn't stop at the stores. Vince Perna, the temporary sand castle commissioner, also works for Dunes Properties. He said their rental properties have been booked for weeks.

"I'd say we're higher than normal," Perna said. "It's definitely a good year this year."

Folly Beach locals are expecting next weekend's Cooper River Bridge Run to bring extra business too.