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Turlock Pentecost Association prepares to celebrate 103 years of cultural traditions
festa pic2
The Turlock Pentecost Association will hold its annual parade from the Turlock Ballroom to Sacred Heart Catholic Church starting at 8:30 a.m. May 31. - photo by Journal file photo

Festa Events

Tuesday, May 26  - Nightly rosary prayers begin at 7 p.m. the Turlock Ballroom located at 528 N. Golden State Boulevard


Friday, May 29  - Outdoor concert, traditional Portuguese music, food, and drinks at the Turlock Ballroom.


Saturday, May 30  - Live band in the dance hall, traditional Portuguese music, food, and drinks at the Turlock Ballroom. Festa queens are presented from various towns in the region.


Sunday, May 31 - The parade begins at 8:30 a.m. from the Turlock Ballroom to Sacred Heart Catholic Church for Mass and first sopas servings begins at 10 a.m.; parade processional returns to Turlock Ballroom where another sopas serving takes place along with a live auction to raise funds for the Turlock Pentecost Association's year round charitable events; final sopas serving at 6 p.m. with a dance to follow at 8 p.m.


Monday, June 1 - The Turlock Bull Fight takes place at the Stevinson Arena located at 2692 North Lander Avenue. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the fights begin at 8 p.m. Hot dogs, linguisa sandwiches, soda, beer and more are available for purchase. Tickets are $25.


It's springtime which means one thing in the Portuguese culture: festa season.

The nearly weeklong Turlock festa celebrations will begin on Tuesday when members of the Turlock Pentecost Association, their families and community members will gather at the Turlock Ballroom for a nightly prayer of the rosary. Come Friday morning, members of the Association gather to prepare roughly 20,000 pounds of beef for the traditional Portuguese dish of sopas, which is composed of the beef and a broth made of wine, spices, cabbage, tomato soup and garlic poured over a large piece of French bread and garnished with mint. 

For thousands of years the sopas celebrations have served to not only allow Portuguese families to celebrate their heritage, but to also feed the community just as Queen Isabel did in the 12th century when the tradition was founded. Members of the community who are not Portuguese can also participate in the tradition as the Association cooks significant amounts of the dish in order to share it with the community.

"Throughout the weekend we will serve roughly 3,000 people sopas," said Turlock Pentecost Association President Johnnie Azevedo.

There are three sopas sessions: Sunday morning, afternoon, and evening. A traditional Portuguese parade proceeds from the Turlock Ballroom at 8:30 a.m. to Sacred Heart Catholic Church for mass. Following the service, the parade of more than 20 organizations and various festa queens from the region proceed back through downtown Turlock to the Ballroom for sopas and a live auction. That evening, the queens are presented, a dance is held, and the culminating event occurs on Monday: the bullfights.

"It's a cultural Portugese tradition," explained Azevedo.

Families and friends gather at the Stevinson Arena where to eat, drink, and watch the action. While the annual festivities are certainly a time for celebration, it is also a period of collaboration and cultural significance to all of those involved said Azevedo.

"As a kid I remember doing all of these traditions things, but reliving them as an adult has really been enlightening," said Azevedo, whose father served as president of the Association in the 1980s. "You come to appreciate what a big undertaking this is, how much it requires everyone to work together, and the meaning behind the celebrating which is, for practicing Catholics, seeing salvation in the works."