The first edition of the Portuguese Festival of the San Joaquin Valley, which takes place on Saturday in Turlock, Calif., Will promote Portuguese art, gastronomy, and traditions in one of the regions of the United States where the diaspora has greater influence.
The Portuguese Festival was created by the Carlos Vieira Foundation “to bring the Portuguese community together and teach others about culture and how the Portuguese contributed to California and the central valley,” said Foundation president Elaina Vieira.
The Portuguese Fraternal Society of America (PFSA) is the main sponsor of the event, whose profits will revert to the “Race for Autism” initiative, a permanent campaign of the Carlos Vieira Foundation to help families with autistic children pay for therapies and teaching materials.
The expectation is to attract ten thousand people, which will make the Portuguese Festival of São Joaquim Valley in the largest Portuguese-American event in California and one of the largest in the country.
“There is nothing like this right now,” said Jerry Escobar, director of fraternal activities at PFSA, noting that the scale and scope are larger than the festivities of Portugal Day in San Francisco Bay in June.
“We want to spread Portuguese culture through California,” said the official, stressing that the mission of the two organizations is similar and encourages “people to be proud of being Portuguese” and to “engage with culture and lead it to the next generations “.
The group of comedians The Portuguese Kids and the rock band Eratoxica are the main attractions in the alignment of the festival, which also includes the singer Alcides Machado, Portuguese-Canadian StarLight and several folkloric ranches and philharmonic bands.
The intention, said Elaina Vieira, is to have “diversified entertainment” and include “different traditional aspects” of Portuguese culture, incorporating explanations of what is happening in the various stages of the festival.
“Even the younger generation of Luso-Americans may not be familiar with the traditions and we want to bring them back, to let them know their roots and how these traditions came about,” she said.
The cultural exhibition, for example, will have explanatory legends in Portuguese and English, since the intention is to reach other communities besides the Portuguese of the valley.
“We do not want Portuguese culture to be lost, especially in California and the central valley, where it is so prominent,” said Elaina Vieira.
There will be a Portuguese Parade, bloodless bull rush and 60 brands of mostly Portuguese products and services, including a gastronomic catering area and Shop Portuguese merchandising shop created by The Portuguese Kids.
Derrick DeMelo, one of the comedians of the Luso-American trio based in Massachusetts, said that the comedy show will have a “special alignment” and that will be presented some of the group’s most popular parody songs, such as “Portuguese And I Know It”, “Luso style”, “Festas Song” and “Dez Pas Cinco”.
Turlock was the city chosen by the organization due to the large size of the Portuguese community, which constitutes 7.4% of the total population.
“We hope this event will be a great success,” said Elaina Vieira, noting that the intention is to make it an annual event if everything goes as planned.
Jerry Escobar considered the formula “perfect” and allows us to bring the old traditions into the present, which fits into the work that PFSA does throughout the year.
“Our intention is to involve younger audiences in the culture of Portugal, to educate and to inspire”, summarized the person in charge.
The organization expects participants from all over California and also from other states.
The Portuguese Festival of the São Joaquim Valley takes place on Saturday, April 13, at the Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock.