BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi Town Green saw a lot of activity Saturday as the 82nd Annual Blessing of the Fleet Festival kicked off. The event brought in crowds from throughout the state, while showcasing the unique culture of Biloxi and giving some local vendors some exposure.
Many Biloxi vendors made sure they took advantage of the crowds at this year's Blessing of the Fleet festival.
"It's great for the economy down here, and we certainly need all the help that we can get with all the disasters that have taken place," said vendor Marlies Welty.
Vendors said even though not everyone is buying, you can't beat an opportunity to get this much face time with both locals and tourists.
"It's great exposure for our business," said Jeanne Walker of F&J's Iced Tea. "People look for us. We give the vendors a great price on our tea and they love us."
"Even if you do not sell a lot while you're here, you establish the fact that you are in existence and you can give out cards and things, and people know where to go get the product," Pat Zuber with the Biloxi Yacht Club explains.
Organizers spent a lot of time making this year's festival a hit. And with vendors, live music, arts and crafts, and food as far as the eye can see, it's safe to say that they've succeeded.
"There's about 15 on the committee and we plan this throughout the year, have meetings and stay close to it, so we can have the celebration that we have today," said Bobby Eleuterius, Blessing of the Fleet Planning Committee.
Saturday's event is just part of the festivities in place for this year's Blessing of the Fleet celebration. And organizers say while promoting local business is important, they also hope to remind attendees of the rich heritage of Biloxi and see plenty of boats at the ceremony Sunday.
"We wanted to keep growing. At one time, we were slowly losing the atmosphere of the Blessing of the Fleet. And it's something that's a tradition in Biloxi... We've just stayed close to this industry all our lives. It's just part of Biloxi. It's part of what helped build the city of Biloxi," said Eleuterius.