I first went to The Blessing of the Fleet back in 1977. Since then I’ve photographed about thirty-three or four of them.
The Blessing of the Feet – as my son Ben used to call it – always seems like the real start of summer. It is a religious ceremony held with great dignity, the visible end of weeks of preparation planned by the committee who work from a small shed in White Gum Valley. It has now become central to the Fremantle Festival which allows the city and some of its creative extroverts to go gang busters at exhibitions, a massive street parade, concerts, coffee competitions, pasta eating competitions … and so on.
Roll on Summer
The Freo festival rolls us into our summer, the sea breeze makes life bearable and Christmas is just around the corner. Then we have the buskers’ festival (as I still insist calling it) at Easter, acting as the backstop to summer. Warm nights. cold beers, parades of vintage yank tanks and the occasional outbreak of music on The Strip underline what the Fremantle lifestyle is about.
Here, for a kickoff, are a few pictures of this years 65th anniversary of the Blessing of the Fleet as well as some dating back nearly 40 years. With the co-operation of the BoF committee and in tandem with a photographic colleague, Lidia D’Opera, there will be a book launched, hopefully at the beginning of next years festival, which will be a history of the event with pictures dating from 1948 through to this years significant anniversary.
All pictures © Roger Garwood & Lidia D’Opera 2013