Enjoy a boat parade, savory seafood samples, live music, arts & crafts and more at the Annual Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival. The event began in 1987 to honor and support local shrimpers, and has evolved into one of the most highly anticipated events of the year for seafood lovers. Held at picturesque Mt. Pleasant Memorial Waterfront, the event will be held on Sunday, June 28th, from 11am – 5pm.

Commercial fishing and shrimping is a demanding and difficult way of life. Shrimp boats frequently spend a week or more at sea, dodging bad weather, waves and plenty of potentially dangerous equipment as they brave the ocean to harvest its bounty. The tradition of “blessing” the commercial fishing fleet has roots in the Mediterranean, and carries deep significance to boats and crew. Each boat is individually blessed and prayed for during the ceremony.

Immigrants to the East Coast of the United States brought the practice with them, and many ports and harbors host an annual blessing celebration, often complete with parades, feasts and pageants. The Charleston area’s version began when the Magwood family, longtime shrimpers based on Shem Creek, decided that the area needed an event to match those that occur in places like Fernandina Beach, Florida, and Darien, Georgia.

Today’s fleet, while highly respected, faces the challenge of convincing people to pay a premium for their product, despite being undercut by imported farmed shrimp from Asia. Customer education about the importance and health benefits of eating local, wild-caught shrimp is the fleet’s biggest asset, and the blessing helps emphasize this more than any other event.

All proceeds from the Blessing of the Fleet benefit the local shrimping industry along with non-profits selected by the planning committee each year.

For more information, call 843-884-8517 or visit www.tompsc.com.