THE BEST EVER : FRIDAY NIGHT @ PORTUGUESE FESTA – NEW BEDFORD

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^ Hathaway Street welcomes you

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“The best ever.”

That’s how The Local Vocal’s editor, Heather Cornell, described this year’s Friday night bash at the annual Madeiran Festival held in and by Blessed Sacrament Parish, the tall-spired, Iberican Gothic cathedral that sits on Acushnet Avenue north of downtown New Bedford.

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We were there, too; walking through the huge crowds of happy people — of all ages, skin colors, shapes, and fashion tastes — listening to the bassline humm of a strobe-lit rock band; drinking sangria and eating cacoila and pork butts at the food pavillion; tapping foot to the music of a screaming, hip-hoppy blues rock ensemble on the Madeira Avenue stage; shopping T shirts at the concessions on Hathaway Street; and — maybe best of all — walking up and down Davis Street, Whitman Street, and Madeira Avenue, past the Club Porta Delgada and St. Michael’s — vroomed by motorcycles — between rows of multi-deck houses in, on, and in front of which one met ordinary people celebrating life, tight shorts, tank tops, and the neighborhood.

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^ tambours and guitars led processional through the crowd. Love those caps !

This was what a Festival should be. A celebration of one’s self, one’s community, one’s tastes and enjoyments, in the heart of the neighborhood and not pushed off to some bland park on the outskirts. A Festival squeezed in among where people actually live — that’s how they do it in Europe, in cities where people live cheek by knee in buildings that hug each other; living among cooking aromas wafting past cigarette smoke, bumping on slang conversations, sliding over a multitude of immigrant dialects. Obviously it works here in Massachusetts too.

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^ screamy blues-based hip hop rock band. Where DID they get those caps ?

The Festival continues today and tomorrow. A schedule of events and locations can be found at the Festival website. It would be a really really unfortunate decision if you decide not to come to it and be part of it. So just come. You will be Madeiran for a day — maybe longer.

NOTE : the Festival lives outdoors. If it rains, you’ll get wet. And you won’t mind it one bit.

—- Mike Freedberg, for The Local Vocal

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