There are a number of ways you can enjoy participating in the 65th Annual Blessing of the Fleet at St. Margaret’s Church in Bayou la Batre, Alabama on May 3 and 4, 2014 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. both days. You can simply attend and enjoy the festivities, or take a more active role in one of several different ways. No matter what option, you choose, mark your calendars for the first weekend in May and plan to be there.
Enter the Gumbo Cook-Off
If you have a favorite gumbo recipe, consider entering the Gumbo Cook Off, which will be held on the first day (May 4) of the festival. Participation is limited to the first 15 teams and applications are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is no cost to enter. Teams are required to prepare at least eight gallons of gumbo on-site. Festival-goers will purchase tickets to participate as tasters and will vote for their favorites. The three Gumbo teams with the most votes will win cash prizes. Download the registration form here.
Get an Arts & Crafts Booth
If you are an artist or crafter, consider renting a booth and participating in the event as a vendor. Booths will be open through the two-day event, and participating vendors will have an opportunity to market their wares throughout this very well—attended event. Vendor applications will be accepted on a space-available basis until all spots are reserved. The vendor registration fee is $75 for the full two-day event through April 21 and $100 after that date. If you need an electrical outlet, there is an additional $25 fee. The registration form is available here.
Run in the Blessing of the FEET
If you are a running enthusiast, consider entering the Blessing of the FEET 4-mile run, which will be held Saturday morning May 3 at 8 a.m. During this Certified 4-Mile Run, runners will travel a course through Bayou la Batre that showcases the area’s seafood industry. Awards will be made for top finishers in several categories.
Whether you are running for a record or participating just for fun, this is a terrific way to participate in the Annual Blessing of the Fleet while also pursuing your passion for fitness. Download the registration form here; note that mail entries need to be postmarked by April 24, 2014 and registrations must be received by April 28, 2014 is the cut-off to be guaranteed to receive a race shirt.
If you are a boat owner – whether you have a commercial or pleasure vessel – consider joining in procession of boats that will receive a blessing by the Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi, Archbishop of Mobile. If you’d like to participate in the decorated boat contest, you’ll need to register in advance, though participation in the contest isn’t required. There is no cost to enter the contest or the procession, which will start at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 4, and vessels can join the procession from anywhere along the Bayou. Download the registration form here.
If you don’t want to enter one of the specific events, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to have a great time at the event. Admission is free, and numerous family-friendly activities will be available. On both Saturday and Sunday May 3 and 4, festival-goers can enjoy arts and crafts booths, music from DJ James “Mr. Music” Newell, children’s activities, bayou boat tours and more.
There will also be delicious food available for purchase, including traditional Bayou La Batre, Alabama seafood dishes like boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, fried fish, stuffed crabs and seafood platters. A full Vietnamese menu prepared by "the locals" will also be available, as well as hamburgers, hot dogs and more.
Many Ways to Participate
No matter how you choose to get involved, just make sure your plans include the 65th Annual Blessing of the Fleet in Bayou, la Batre, Alabama during the first weekend in May. There’s no better way to welcome summer and peak seafood season in southern Alabama.