Blessing of Fleet, Fais-Do-Do headline weekend

One of city’s most cherished traditions, the Biloxi Shrimp Festival and Blessing of the Fleet, takes place this weekend off the Biloxi peninsula.

The weekend-long celebration, which dates back to the Old Country, is highlighted by the Sunday afternoon blessing of a brightly decorated shrimping fleet to ask for God’s blessing for a safe and bountiful season. Dozens of shrimp boats and other vessels are expected to participate in the procession.

“This time-honored ceremony captures the true essence of our people,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said. “It combines the historical, religious, industrious and festive aspects that all make up Biloxi, and it pays tribute to what is still a strong and viable industry, our seafood industry.”

The events will kick off this evening with a reception for past Kings and Queens and the introduction of the 2011 King and Shrimp Queen contestants.

On Saturday, the Biloxi Town Green will host the festival’s daylong Fais-Do-Do, a French term loosely translated as street dance. The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and has a $5 gate fee for those 13 and older, will feature hundreds of arts and craft booths; fresh seafood dishes; and music by such artists as Isis, Rhythm and Rain, Barbara and Company, and Elvis impersonator Tim Johnson.

The Mass of the Blessing will be conducted Saturday at 4 p.m. at St. Michael Catholic Church on Point Cadet. The church, along with the City of Biloxi and Harrison County, sponsor the annual festival.

Afterward, the coronation of King Victor Mavar of Biloxi will occur in a ceremony at the fais-do-do, where Shrimp Queen contestants and new queen will be announced.

On Sunday, the actual blessing of the fleet takes place in the Biloxi channel. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. with the dropping of a wreath in memory of deceased fishermen and seafood industry workers. Brightly decorated working shrimp boats and other craft will be in a procession that will stretch from the Biloxi Lighthouse eastward to the Isle Casino Resort. The vessels will be blessed by the Rev. Greg Barras of St. Michael Catholic Church. Best-decorated boats will be eligible for $2,000 in cash awards.

More info, video, photos: To visit the Biloxi Shrimp Festival and Blessing of the Fleet website, click here.

Weekend preview: To see the overall lineup of entertainment this weekend, click here.

News and notes

Webcasting: Britton Jones, a landscape architect with the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, updates progress on the Bayou Auguste Greenway project in this week’s City Desk webcast. For background on the project, click here. Also in this week’s program: the recent relief effort for the town of Smithville, the Palace Casino Resort, and more. To listen to the 14-minute program, click here.

Ballpark movie: The city and Harrison County will host a free block party at Savarro Park this evening, beginning at 6 o’clock. There will be games for children, free hot dogs, drinks and chips, and at 7:30 the movie “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” will be shown. Savarro Park is on Irish Hill Drive at St. Francis Street.

AIDS walk: The South Mississippi AIDS Task Force is sponsoring a “Strides for Life” Walk on June 25 at 7 a.m. on the Biloxi Bay Bridge. Those interested in taking part in the walk, which is designed to raise awareness about the prevention of HIV and AIDS, should call (228) 385-1214.

Flood of mail: Owners of record of properties in flood-prone areas of the city will be receiving the city’s annual notice regarding the special steps that must be taken for construction in flood zones. You can find a copy of the four-page report — plus a wealth of storm-prevention information — in the Storm & Flood Preparedness section of the city web site. To go there, click here.

Council meeting: The Biloxi City Council meets Tuesday afternoon at 1:30. The regularly scheduled meeting will be held on the second floor of City Hall and is open to the public. The meeting agenda and resolutions should be on the city web site by 5 p.m. today or by noon Monday.