Feast feats: Big crowds made it unforgettable for volunteers

By Kathleen McKiernan
August 02. 2015 9:00PM
NEW BEDFORD — With close to 5,000 malasadas eaten, 20 to 25 barrels of Madeira Wine drank and a sell out of bread, Portuguese Feast organizers say the 101st year of the annual festival may have been the best.
“We ran out of bread. We never run out of bread,” said Mariann Baptista, who volunteered serving food at the pavilion. “I thought this year’s feast was wonderful. It’s all about family and tradition and people coming in from out of town. The camaraderie of everyone — you can’t even touch it.”
The Club Madeirense S.S. Sacramento wrapped up its feast on Sunday with a 10 a.m. service at the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception church to honor the Blessed Sacrament and a parade of more than 40  organizations marching from Brooklawn Park to the feast grounds at Madeira Field. Parade Marshal James Souza was also honored by State Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral and Senator Mark Montigny with a citation from the Legislature.
“It was excellent,” said 2015 Feast President Nelson De Gouveia. “We were lucky enough for the weather. God blessed us with a beautiful parade too. I’m very happy with everything we did.”
“We truly celebrate Portuguese tradition. All this weekend we’ve all been Madeirans,” said Rep. Cabral.
At the popular Madeira Wine booth, 150 gallons of sangria was sold and 20 to 25 barrels of wine. On Saturday, five to seven barrels were consumed, a feat for the feast, volunteers said.
“We couldn’t keep up. I was in awe of the amount of people here without incident,” said Tino De Gouveia. “The volume of what we do in here is crazy. Saturday was the most hectic night.”
Tino, feast President Nelson De Gouveia’s brother, said this year’s feast was “the best one ever.”
“I traveled 3,000 miles to be here from Seattle. Nothing has compared to this one,” Tino said.
The souvenir stand also almost ran out of black “Got Madeira?” T-shirts, Balbina Jardin said.
“It was crazy – a lot of people. I’m happy we had a lot of people. (Saturday) night was excellent,” Jardin said.
At least 5,000 malasadas were sold.
“It’s great. It was a lot of work. This is the first time we’ve done this stand,” Barry Chase said.
Hustling behind the scenes, Adriano Almeida III and Joe Pires worked to make sure the feast went smoothly in terms of technology and social media. It was the first major push on social media for the feast, Almeida said. The volunteers created the feast’s first Instagram account and began using Twitter more this year.
“If it wasn’t for Joe and I working together, none of this would have happened,” Almeida said, speaking in terms of the media. “This was the largest push we’ve had for social media.
“It’s a lot of fun. You meet a lot of new people and they become family,” Almeida said. “I’ll definitely be here every year. This is my family. You do what you can for family.”
Follow Kathleen McKiernan on Twitter @KatMcKiernanSCT

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