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Blessing of fleet is this weekend
Kids eat shrimp on the riverfront in Darien during a recent Blessing of the Fleet festival. - photo by Photo provided.
Coastal Georgia tradition, maritime heritage and down home fun are on the schedule during the 39th annual Blessing of the Fleet festival in Darien today-Sunday.
The festival gets under way late today with an adult-only tricycle race at 4 p.m. and the opening of vendor booths at 5. At 6, the music begins at Waterfront Park. First up is O.S.K.A.R., a classic rock band, and at 8, the electrifying Paul Thorn Band rounds out the night.
On Saturday, festivities kick off at 8 a.m. with the Darien River Run, a 5K race that begins at Oak Grove Intermediate School. At 10, a Treasures-of-the-Sea themed parade will march through historic Darien.
A classic car show at the Mountain Streams Gift Shop opens after the parade. At 2, the Rotary Club launches hundreds of rubber ducks off the Darien Bridge for the ever-popular duck race. The kid’s fishing rodeo on Butler Island kicks off at 3. Then at 4 p.m., kids of all ages will thrill to the sight of youngsters in shrimpboxes as they race down Boone’s Dock Road in the Shrimpbox Derby.
Food vendors will serve local fare, as well as all the regular festival favorites. Be sure and try the succulent wild Georgia shrimp, fried or spicy-boiled, flavorful shrimp creole, and much, much more.
The music at Waterfront Park cranks up at noon on Saturday with the Dirty Hairys and their custom mix of rock oldies and feel-good party music. At 3, Brandi Thornton takes the stage, singing her blend of country, bluegrass and rock. Local legend Vic Waters sings of the delights of the coast at 6. Following a dazzling fireworks display over the Darien River, musical headliner and Georgia native T. Graham Brown takes the stage. This Country Music Award winning vocalist from Athens has garnered 12 top 10 country music hits.
On Sunday, scheduled events begin with a cooking competition at 11 a.m. at Waterfront Park. The cook-off pits shrimper against shrimper for bragging rights of best boat fare.
The shrimp-eating contest at 1:30 p.m. is open to all. The shrimp will be boiled and must be peeled before you eat them.
Music at Waterfront Park on Sunday is provided by the Phil Morrison Quartet and will run from noon to 3.
The Blessing of the Fleet Marine Parade starts at 3, with area clergy on the bridge offering prayers for the safety of the fleet. This annual ceremony is grounded in European tradition, lending assurance that area watermen will return safely to shore. Gaily-decorated shrimp trawlers from 40- to 80-feet in length will approach the bridge for this annual blessing. A commemorative wreath will be cast from the stern of a trawler in remembrance of those who have lost their lives at sea.
The festival concludes at 6.
Visit the festival’s Web site for more information at or call the McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce at (912) 437-6684.
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