BY DANIEL BROWNSTEIN, The
Published Monday, October 30, 2006
As a parade of boats passed by the dock, Jay Slocum said a prayer and flicked holy water on each.
Photo: Jay Slocum blesses a boat Sunday as it passes in front of The Church of the Cross in Bluffton. The blessing of the fleet wrapped up the Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival. Erin Painter/The
"May the Lord bless this vessel and all therein," said the pastor of The Church of the Cross. "May he bless your going out and your coming in."
After all the boats received good tidings, Slocum prayed for the salty spine of Bluffton: the
The second-annual Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival began with a ritzy champagne and seafood dinner Friday night, but ended Sunday with old-fashioned Southern religion at The Church of the Cross, a riverfront chapel that narrowly avoided the fiery wrath of Union troops during the Civil War.
Families picnicked. Children tested parents' nerves by rolling down the steep bluff. Spectators swayed and clapped as two gospel choirs sang their hearts out. The
"It's a gorgeous spot on a gorgeous day," said Alta Richardson, a
The blessing of the fleet was one of the growing festival's new events. It exceeded organizers' expectations as about two dozen boats joined the flotilla. They came in all sizes, from small skiffs to larger fishing vessels and tour boats. Many were decorated with streamers and balloons.
"I don't know if the blessing does bring good luck," said Larry Toomer, owner of Bluffton Oyster Co., the state's only remaining shucking plant. "It definitely doesn't hurt, though."
The three-day festival -- which included a street fair, local seafood, fireworks and a Civil War encampment -- is designed to highlight Bluffton's sleepier side by promoting an offbeat artist's haven nestled in between live oak trees.
It's an image that sometimes gets lost in southern
"We really loved the local flavor," he said, "especially the gospel music."