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Episode #21105

Blessing of the Fleet

Air date 10/18/12
Host: Walt Grayson

Mississippi Roads journeys to the coast for the 83rd annual Blessing of the Fleet and Shrimp Festival in Biloxi. Homesteading Christine Clarke of Noxubee County has lived a long and self-sufficient life. Innovation and creativity are on display at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, and dolphins are just one of the many sea creatures examined at the Institute of Marine Mammal Studies.



Christine Clark has chosen to live in a way unique in today’s world. She churns her own butter, grows her own onions, and lives off the land as much as she can. While community and rooftop gardens have grown in popularity, Clark has been living as a homesteader her whole life. She finds comfort in the fresh food, her good health, and the knowledge that no matter what, she has the knowledge to survive.


The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, established in 1984, has a long history of public education, conservation, and research. The non-profit has used its seaside location in Gulfport to provide care and help for sick and injured marine mammals from the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coasts. It has also served as a unique educational and research opportunity for scientists across the nation.

The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi rose out of the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina to provide a unique architectural and creative center along the Mississippi gulf coast. Celebrating the work of Biloxi potter George E. Ohr, the museum displays not only the work of this illustrious artist, but also works exemplary of the coast’s diverse culture.

The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition unique to Mississippi’s gulf coast. As the official start of shrimping season, the Blessing ceremony can be traced back to 1929 as a product of the shrimp fisherman’s strong ties to their local Catholic churches. The Blessing has grown to include a huge procession along Mississippi Sound, a Shrimp Festival, and the coronation of a Shrimp King and Queen, making it a great celebration for fisherman and locals alike.