The 87th annual Blessing of the Fleet and Shrimp Festival has begun in Biloxi and will culminate with the blessing itself Sunday in the Biloxi Channel.
This year's event began Thursday evening with a memorial Mass for Deceased Fishermen at St. Michael Catholic Church.
Friday will offer a past royalty reception at 5 p.m. at the Slavonian Lodge, 159 Maple Street.
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Saturday will be a day of fun, food and music is with the fais do-do and the Shrimp Queen pageant. Events will start at 10 a.m. and last until 10 p.m. at Point Cadet Pavilion.
The coronation of the 2016 Shrimp King and Queen will be at 5:30 p.m. during the fais do-do at Point Cadet Pavilion. Admission for Saturday's events is $5 at the gate (children 12 and under free).
The Blessing of the Fleet Mass will be at 4 p.m. at St. Michael Catholic Church.
The blessing itself begins at 2 p.m. with the ceremonial wreath and boat parade, starting at Beacon No. 4 and going to the Golden Nugget Casino Hotel. Beacon No. 4 is at the western end of the Biloxi Channel near the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
A celebration of Biloxi heritage
Until the late 1800s, Biloxi was a quiet little resort community. Then several business owners opened seafood-canning plants, which benefited from a then-new railroad link to the inland markets and the development of ice manufacturing.
Shrimp and oysters became a significant part of Biloxi's economy.
Each year, artists submit their works in hopes they'll be chosen for the festival's poster.
This year's winner is Ocean Springs artist Scott Rushing Jr.
His winning design features a shrimp boat, the Biloxi Lighthouse, St. Michael Church, a Live oak and the crustaceans themselves.
Shrimp King 2016
This year's Shrimp King is Frank Parker.
A sixth-generation native of Biloxi, he is the captain and owner of the shrimping vessel Fair Maiden.
Shrimp Queen candidates
This year's Shrimp Queen candidates:
n Blair Doyle of St. Patrick Catholic High School
n Shelby Braun of Ocean Springs High School
n Devann Delaneuville of D'Iberville High School
n Julie Creel of Mississippi State University
n Gabbie Creel of St. Martin High School
n Paige Jimerson of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
n Marie Massey of St. Martin High School
n Jordan Wescovich of St. Martin High School