Shrimpers in Darien, Ga., hope this year's season will be as successful as the port's 46th annual blessing of the fleet was this past weekend.
Last year was a tough one for Georgia shrimpers, according to data from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resources Division. The data shows that between 1972 and 2013, Georgia shrimpers have landed an annual average of 4.1 million pounds of shrimp worth $14 million. In 2013, they caught 989,839 pounds worth nearly $4.3 million.
But it's a new year, and with the annual fleet blessing comes renewed hope for nets filled with shrimp. The Sunday blessing and parade of shrimp trawlers is the festival's centerpiece, as you can see in the video below.
Top Events U.S.A. touts the Darien Blessing of the Fleet Festival as one of the 10 best events in Georgia. It's a big deal, attracting upwards of 35,000 people annually. It features plenty of food and crafts vendors, musical entertainment, a classic car show, a juried art show, kid-friendly activities, a road race, a street parade, boat rides and a fireworks display.
Fleet blessings are celebrated within commercial fishing communities all over the country. It's always heartening to see the extent to which Darien and other fishing communities embrace the fleet blessings and their fishermen.
And it's great to see the kind of attendance the Darien festival attracts. It suggests that people outside of Darien also appreciate the town's shrimpers and the work they do.