Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blessing of the Fleet

This past weekend we traveled to Darien, Ga for the Blessing of the Fleet. http://blessingofthefleet.com/   The weather was spectacular, our lodgings quaint and cozy, the food fantastic and the people we met were sincere, friendly and happy.  It is hard to have a bad time when you have all that going for you.  The entire weekend was devoted to celebrating the shrimpers on the Georgia coast.  Friday the festival kicked off with Art in the Park, Vendor Alley and Concerts down by the river and lots of festival food. 

We rolled into town late Friday night, around 10:00 pm and were greeted by one of our hosts, Jeff Spratt who along with his wife Kelly own the Open Gates B&B. http://www.opengatesbnb.com/index.php Jeff was actually waiting at the gates for our arrival (or so we told ourselves)!  What a show of true Southern hospitality.  Once we settled into our Garden Room we sat on our private back porch and just relaxed and enjoyed the sounds of the festival winding down around us.  We slept in the most comfortable beds replete with fine soft linens and fluffy pillows that cradled us right to sleep.

Saturday morning we arose and went down to the main house for breakfast, waffles made to order, sausage patties, fresh fruit and some of the best coffee I have had away from home.  After all I am spoiled every morning by my own pot "Joe".  Fresh ground beans and a coffee poem written by my husband is a wonderful way to start each day.  Any way.....after breakfast we litterly walked across the street into Vernon Square where the fine art displays were set up.  Beautifully hand crafted art and crafts in a magnificant setting.  The white tents were all over the square nestled under huge oaks dripping with spanish moss.  The altamaha river just a mere two blocks away where the shrimp boats were being festooned with streamers and decked out for the blessing on Sunday. 

Of course there was a parade! Is there anything better to bring a community together?  Especially a community of less than 2000 residents. Lead by the local police departments with sirens blaring and lights flashing anythng on wheels or hooves was in the parade.  Vintage firetrucks, tow trucks, automobiles, four wheelers, wagons, boats on wheels, tricycles, bicycles, shopping carts (thanks Piggly Wiggly) and cowboys on horse back and the Piggly Wiggly pig rocked the parade along with Ronald McDonald.  (Is it just me or do clowns freak you out too?)  Everyone throwing candy for the children who lined the streets anxiously awaiting for the stream of excitement to reach them.  The parade moved at a steady pace, SLOWLY.  We could hear the parade for a good 45 minutes before we actually saw it.  I still can't figure out how they got the cars to move so slow.  Everything moves at a slower pace in South Georgia I guess.  It was so much fun!

We even got see one of dear friends, Kate!  Ironic that we had traveled about six hours to visit when we live all live in the Atlanta area and hardly ever see each other. Somehow life gets in the way.  Something we plan to change.  We spent the day wandering the park and down vendor alley to see everything there was to see, from pickles to scotch eggs to alligator kabobs.  Bungy jumping and the world's largest pinball machine and tattoos all mixed up in a crazy kalidescope of fun.  Don't 'cha just love small town festivals?

My FAVORITE stop....Phickles Pickles! If you have never tried them, please do.  If you like pickles you will love these products.  Small hand packed process, family business and made right here in Athens, GA! Like they say....Have Fun!....Eat a Phickle!  Angie and Phin are the proprieters and will be happy to hear from you!  http://www.phickles.com/

Sunday morning we enjoyed a feast of shrimp and grits and everyone attended the worship service of choice.  The Gospel Sing started at the riverside park immediately after church and at 2:00pm the blessing of the fleet comensced.  The holy water was flying, poems were read and we learned allot about the history of each boat and the contributions the shrimping industry has made to the local economy and the history of the region.  Of course you could still shop to til you dropped and a good time was had by all. The festivities ended around 5pm......until next year! 

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