Brandy Gray is Water Festival’s first Pirette-turned-Commodore. (We predict she won’t be the last!) We had some questions for Madam Commodore…
Q) Tell us about yourself. When you’re not Commodore-ing, what do you do?
A) I am a Sales Manager for Veritas Hospitality Group and I work in Bluffton at the Holiday Inn Express. I enjoy volunteering for various events in town and also serve on the board at Beaufort Jasper Water & Sewer Authority.
Q) We hear you’re the first Pirette-turned-Commodore in Water Festival history. Have you been working your way up the Festival ladder ever since high school?
A) I guess you could say I drank the kool-aid and enjoyed the behind the scenes excitement. I enjoyed my years as a Pirette and met some amazing girls. I have been working my way through the ranks for the past 15 years. I started out as the bed race chair, Pirette leader and the list goes on and on.
Q) Before now, what was the most challenging position you’d held with the Festival?
A) I would have to say the most challenging position is Sales and Admissions. This position is in charge of all of the crafters, beverages, concessionaries, civic/volunteer groups, gate sales and merchandise. I had an awesome team of directors and each one had a different division but they all are woven together. It was one of the hardest years but one of the most fun!!
Q) As Commodore, what are your greatest challenges?
A) We try each year to provide high quality entertainment and we are super excited about our two national artists who will be performing this year. We value our patrons input and try to incorporate their suggestions as much as possible.
Q) What are your favorite perks?
A) It would have to be parking !!
Q) Was being Commodore a longstanding goal for you? If so, how does it feel to finally be there?!
A) It has been a goal of mine since my years as a Pirette. This is year is a bitter sweet year as I will finally have accomplished one of my life long dreams. There are many moments that I look back over the years and realize that this is my last festival as part of the operations side of the event. I am sure to shed many tears during the festival but they will be tears of happiness!!
Q) Tell us about some of this year’s Festival highlights. What are you most excited about? Anything new on tap?
A) We are certainly trying to stay as tech savvy as possible so we have launched our own Water Festival App in both iPhone and Android formats. We are embarking on a grassroots social media campaign during the festival. Stay tuned for more details . . .
We have changed the schedule around by moving Dragon Boat Racing to the second Saturday to allow for more time and teams. The air show will move to the first weekend and we will host a coastal education expo this year featuring Hunting island, Port Royal Sound Foundation, Lowcountry Master Naturalist Association, Coastal Discovery Museum just to name a few.
Tropical Tuesday has now been changed to Salsa Tuesday with a 10 piece mariachi band. We are working with a local dance studio to provide dancers and lessons for the public. We are very excited to host Craig Morgan as our Concert in the Park entertainer and Eric Paslay the following weekend. This year we will host two national recording artists with singles that have been climbing the charts for months.
Q) Have your fellow female Commodores Erin Dean and Sheri Little given you any tips or advice?
A) They have been amazing supporters with lots of advice. They seem to always know the right time to reach out to check on me. It is as though they recall the countdown to opening ceremonies from their years and can sense the tension that is mounting.
Q) Are you looking forward to next year, when you get to be a Whistler?
A) I am looking forward to a slower time in my life so that I can enjoy my family more… But no one is ever ready for their debut as a Whistler.
For more information about the 59th Annual Beaufort Water Festival, pick up the Official Water Festival Guide in this issue of Lowcountry Weekly, or visit www.bftwaterfestival.com