More than 23,000 people visited the Sydney Fish Market on 25 September as the iconic institution celebrated the annual Blessing of the Fleet, the centrepiece of which is a procession bearing a statue of the Madonna aloft together with a blessing of the market and nearby fishing boats.
It was a red-letter day for the Italian community, many of whom are involved with the fishing business and its retail activities as well.
Sydneysiders, tourists and the Italian community all come together to celebrate this tradition with the procession of the Madonna through the market passing each retailer, with Fr Christopher Slattery, parish priest of St Martha’s, Strathfield, blessing with holy water as it went along.
The Madonna was then carried down onto the wharf where Fr Slattery individually blessed all the fishing boats.
Following the procession, dignitary speeches were delivered by the president of the Association Bagnara Calabra, Ada Bagnato, the general manager of the Sydney Fish Market, Bryan Skepper, MP for Drummoyne John Sidoti, and Paul Bagnato, also of the Association Bagnara Calabra.
After the official procession and speeches families and friends sat back and enjoyed some fresh seafood, relaxing on the boardwalk while they were entertained by talented artists, including Danni Da Ros (The Voice), Platinum (The Voice and Disney USA), Latin Vibes and Italian Folk Dancers, all hosted by Chris Ninni (The Voice).
The crowd joined in for the famous spaghetti eating competition which saw people getting messy with this favourite, Italian dish. Visitors also had the opportunity to learn the art of prawn peeling and then put their skills to the test in the prawn peeling competition.
Later in the afternoon, Mr Bagnato and a local fisherman demonstrated the art of fishing net mending and rope splicing on the floating stage. Overall, it was a great day out for everyone who travelled from all over to attend.