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Blessing, festival are shrimply Biloxi

Passengers aboard the shrimp boat Richard & Melonie wave to those on shore during the 2014 Blessing of the Fleet in Biloxi.
Passengers aboard the shrimp boat Richard & Melonie wave to those on shore during the 2014 Blessing of the Fleet in Biloxi. SUN HERALD/FILE

Point Cadet in Biloxi will be hopping June 2-5 as the 87th annual Blessing of the Fleet and Shrimp Festival get underway.

While the blessing itself is Sunday, June 5, several events lead up to the blessing. including a Memorial Mass for Deceased Fishermen at 6 p.m. June 2 at St. Michael Catholic Church.

The big day for fun, food and music is June 4, with the fais-do-do and the Shrimp Queen pageant. Events start at 10 a.m. and last until 10 p.m. at Point Cadet Pavilion.

The coronation of the 2016 Shrimp King & Queen is 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 is 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 to the Golden Nugget Casino Hotel Biloxi. Beacon No. 4 is at the western end of the Biloxi Channel near the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.

Biloxi celebrates the seafood industry because Biloxi wouldn't be the same without it. 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 for the festival, an art contest is held for the event.

The 2016 winner is Ocean Springs artist Scott Rushing Jr. His art features a shrimp boat, the Biloxi Lighthouse, St. Michael's Church, a Live oak and, of course, the crustaceans themselves.

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.

This year's Shrimp Queen candidates are:

-- Blair Doyle of St. Patrick Catholic High School

-- Shelby Braun of Ocean Springs High School

-- Devann Delaneuville of D'Iberville High School

-- Julie Creel of Mississippi State University

-- Gabbie Creel of St. Martin High School

-- Paige Jimerson of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

-- Marie Massey of St. Martin High School

-- Jordan Wescovich of St. Martin High School.

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