Billed as the " World's Largest Portuguese Feast", the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament in New Bedford Massachusetts is the city's cap on the summer. Spread over four days, Thursday through Sunday, and packed with events, live music, great food, parades and other cultural activities, the feast celebrates the history and culture of Madeira Island and it's people.
As a kid, my parents would bring us to the feast. I remember walking from the giant parking lot over to Madeira Field, the road blocked off to cars, people everywhere, carnival rides, and food stations all around. I remember the parades and the folcloric dancers. But mostly I remember my dad working the giant skewer of beef above an open fire pit. We'd be there for a while as the meat cooked. My dad would talk to his buddies as he stood there with all the other men rotating the skewers and pouring beer or wine over the meat to add flavor and prevent it from drying out or burning. A total male bonding thing.
The Feast of the Blessed Sacrament is a family-oriented event. It's a fun introduction to Portuguese culture, if you're unfamiliar with the food, the music, the language, etc. The Museum of Madeiran Heritage is close by, and throughout the afternoon there are culture events and activities including parades, fado music concerts, folcloric dance troupes, raffles, and there is even a 5K road race. In the evenings, there are traditional Portuguese and modern American music shows at different stages on the grounds and, of course, there's the food. Though wine and beer is served throughout the grounds, the atmosphere is relaxed and everyone is well-behaved.
50 Madeira Avenue (Madeira Field)
New Bedford MA 02746