Friday, April 27, 2012
The 16th annual “Blessing of the Inlet” is taking shape for May 5, the first Saturday in May.
Belin Memorial United Methodist Church, overlooking Murrells Inlet’s sweeping marsh views, will again play host to this eagerly anticipated, family-friendly event.
Belin, named for Reverend James L. Belin, a Methodist minister and generous area benefactor, was established in 1925.
A bit more than seven decades later, the idea for the Blessing was conceived in a church Sunday school class as a way to give back to one of the South’s most beautiful and beloved fishing communities.
From the beginning, the Blessing was intended to serve up fun, food and Christian fellowship. 16 years later, no one can argue with its track record of success.
A full day of events is scheduled from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The festival highlight is, of course, the “Blessing of the Inlet” ceremony at 11:30 a.m.
Administered by the Rev. Mike Alexander and the Rev. Marty Nason, it is always a moving and inspirational service.
“When Blessing of the Inlet was first created 16 years ago, it was our intent to create a day filled with worship, food and fun, a day capped by a “Blessing” service that acknowledges the continued blessings our Lord pours out on the Inlet community,” said Willie Lee, founder and chairman of the Blessing of the Inlet committee. “That remains our goal.”
More than 70 vendors will showcase a variety of must-have wares – from handmade jewelry to original paintings and much more. Assorted Murrells Inlet restaurants and local food purveyors will be on hand to keep hunger at bay. Tempting options will include something for everyone.
Of course, seafood takes center stage. There will be seared tuna, shrimp and grits, fried blue crab, shrimp Creole, Frogmore stew and gator fritters. For little ones and those less adventurous, there will be hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken nuggets, barbecue, braised ribs and that ubiquitous Southern delicacy called chicken “bog.”
A fun line-up of children’s events include face painting, airbrush tattoos, pony rides and live bunnies to pet, numerous inflatables and the ever-popular “Dunking Tank” where the young and young-at-heart take turns trying to “dunk” friends and family. Outstanding entertainment will showcase dance troupes, gospel choirs, contemporary Christian musicians and more.
“See Ya’ Saturday” has developed into the Blessing’s official slogan. Invite a few friends and bring the family to this free festival. There is no admission or parking fee and fun will be had come rain or shine.
Due to Belin’s focus on the people and lives of Murrells Inlet and the surrounding South Strand, the “Blessing of the Inlet” does not include a blessing of animals.
“Come help us celebrate the glory of God and all He has blessed us with,” said Lee.
For more information about the 2012 event schedule or about participating as a restaurant or crafter in the 2013 festival, visit www.blessingoftheinlet.com or www.seeyasaturday.com.
By Kimberly Duncan
For the Times