After a successful inaugural event in 2019, the San Joaquin Valley Portuguese Festival will return to Turlock this summer following a year hiatus due to the pandemic.
The Carlos Vieira Foundation hosted the first SJVPF in April 2019 and it was a huge success, with nearly 15,000 community members from Turlock and beyond making their way out to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds to enjoy Portuguese food, dancing, music and entertainment. The festival not only allows people of all backgrounds to discover what Portuguese culture has to offer, but also raises money for the CVF’s Race for Autism campaign in order to help Central Valley families who have children living with autism.
With such a vast Portuguese population living in and around Turlock, CVF founder Carlos Vieira said the first event was a way to bring a bit of Portugal to the fairgrounds.
“It was such a wonderful event,” Vieira told The 209 Podcast earlier this year. “The Portuguese are such a big community and they love celebrating their history...I saw an opportunity to bring the Portuguese community together and raise money for autism.”
The foundation was forced to cancel the second annual festival in 2020 due to the pandemic, then postponed it again earlier this year as COVID restrictions continued. Following the state’s reopening on June 15, however, CVF was able to schedule the two-day event for Aug. 28 and 29 later this year.
“That first event, it surpassed our imagination. We were thinking we’d be lucky if we got 5,000 people and we got over 15,000,” Vieira said. “We were all pumped and ready to do it again and the pandemic shut that down.”
The festival will be back and better than ever this year. The festivities will kick off with a Portuguese parade on Saturday, followed by plenty of activities including folklore performances, bull on a rope by Joe Vaz, philharmonic performances, wine and cheese tasting, a cultural exhibit, carnival rides, plenty of Portuguese food and craft vendors.
Once again, the event will also feature performances on the 51FIFTY Stage throughout the day, including Generations Band, Alcides Machado, Chico Avila, and all the way from Portugal, Ana Malhoa and Jose Malhoa. Ana Malhoa is a popular pop singer, TV host and actress in Portugal, while Jose Malhoa is a well-known folk/pimba singer. Additionally, Sunday will feature a traditional Portuguese bloodless bullfight.
Tickets will be on sale soon; two-day advance tickets will be $15 presale only, tickets at the gate will be $10 per day and kids under 10 years old get free admission to the festival. To stay up to date with the festival, follow Carlos Vieira Foundation on Instagram and Facebook. Interested vendors, sponsors or parade applicants can visit SJVportuguesefestival.com for more information.
“You don't have to be Portuguese to enjoy it,” Vieira said. “We pictured it to be a community event and that’s what it became.”