Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Darien Set for Blessing of the Fleet; Annual Event Is Expected to Draw 30,000 Plus and Includes Food and Entertainment

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Darien Set for Blessing of the Fleet; Annual Event Is Expected to Draw 30,000 Plus and Includes Food and Entertainment

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Morrison

The time and tide are right this weekend for Darien's 45th annual Blessing of the Fleet.

Just like its fishing industry, the event that draws 30,000-plus people to the small coastal community is governed by the tides.

"Our festival revolves around the tide," McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce President Wally Orel said. "We have to have an outgoing tide so the captains can control their shrimp boats as they pass under the bridge. It's got to be early to mid [tide], before it gets to ripping."

More priests and preachers than you can shake an aspergillum at - that's the instrument used to sprinkle holy water - will line up on the Darien River bridge and bless the boats as they ease up to the bridge.

"We will have 10 to 12 ministerial associations representing several denominations," Orel said.

They'll be on the bridge at 2 p.m. on Sunday for the crowning event of the three-day festival.

Before then, however, the waterfront festival venue will be humming with activity.

Local legend Vic Waters will make his return to the festival stage Saturday night to sing a few songs about shrimpers, truck drivers and the beauty of his home county. Marshbilly music, he calls it.

"This is kind of a homecoming thing," Waters said. "A lot of people that don't live here anymore come back for the blessing."

It's a homecoming of sorts for Waters, although he hasn't left the county. He's been off the stage for a couple of years recuperating from throat cancer. He's a little rusty but ready to go, he said.

"Aug. 2, 2010," Waters said. "I haven't sang any since then except in the living room singing to my dog. My dog is my biggest fan."

Waters headlines a card of local talent that leans heavily toward the Waters family. Waters' sons, Shad and Mason, play in his band. …

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