McClellanville is the kind of small, Mark Twain style Victorian village that every Southerner wishes they had grown up in and in which everyone wishes he were Southern. The village dates back to the mid 1800′s when rice planters of the South Santee River region established summer homes along Jeremy Creek. The village that emerged is nestled in the heart of a great forest of tall pines, stately palmettos, and ancient live oaks which is today known as the Francis Marion National Forest.
In the 1920′s a small group of Portuguese fishermen migrated from Florida and began harvesting shrimp in the waters near McClellanville. Seeing this plentiful and profitable harvest, local fisherman joined them and the village’s shrimping industry soon flourished. Today, the village is a self-sufficient community of beautiful, picture-perfect homes, historic churches, and quaint shops with an economy now largely dependent on the sea… its shrimp, fish, and shellfish are among the finest along the Carolina Coast.
In the summer of 1977, the Archibald Rutledge Academy sponsored the first Lowcountry Shrimp Festival. The event focuses on the blessing of the village’s shrimping fleet as local shrimp boat captains and crews prepared for the upcoming shrimp season. Trawlers, festooned with colorful flags and pennants, slowly parade down Jeremy Creek to receive the prayers of the local clergy for a safe and bountiful season. This tradition will be continued with this year’s festival when today’s shrimp fleet lines up to be blessed. Recent gales and Hurricane Hugo have given this traditional service greater meaning.
Following the “Blessing” a floral wreath will be laid upon the waters as a memorial to those who have been lost at sea.