Weekend: a taste of West Sacramento’s Portuguese heritage

NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 26, 2013–


If you grew up in the “Bryte” or “Broderick” neighborhoods of West Sacramento, or old “West Sacramento,” then you probably remember the “Portuguese Picnic” that was celebrated the last weekend of June, with its parade through the streets of town filled with queens wearing big tiaras and floats representing saints, along Portuguese folk music and the calls from the bingo stand.  You could smell the barbeque beef on a spit that people cooked themselves and the linguica sandwiches and beans. You could get all these along with cold beer at the bar.

San Pedro Festival queens Nieve Kelly and Kaitlyn Clopton (courtesy photo)

San Pedro Festival queens Nieve Kelly and Kaitlyn Clopton (courtesy photo)

This year, the San Pedro Festa will be open to the public on Saturday, June 29 from 3 to 8pm and on Sunday, June 30th from 11am to 8pm.  There will be the same great marinated beef on a spit (carne espita), linguica sandwiches, tremose (brined beans) and sweet bread will be available as in years gone by.

Free live entertainment will be available headlined by the Bay Area sensation and Luso-American artist Ramana Vieria and her ensemble, who will perform Saturday evening from 6-8pm.  Earlier in the evening you can catch the fun sounds of the ACC Pocket Pickers Ukulele Group at 4:30pm.

Saturday evening will also feature the crowning of this year’s queens.  Nieve Kelly, daughter of Cathy Ingram-Kelly and Eamon Kelly, will represent San Pedro as the senior queen.  Kaitlyn Clopton, daughter of Jason and Tiffany Freitas, will be the baby queen.  Both of these young ladies’ families are descendants of the San Pedro Association founding fathers.

Sunday’s entertainment will include the procession from Holy Cross Church to the park beginning after mass at 10:30 a.m.  Grand Marshals of the procession will be Al & Marie Balshor, longstanding supporters and members for the San Pedro Association.  Included in the procession will be the Sacramento Youth Band, who will also perform during the day at the Park and the Rancho Folclorico Vira Virou de Newark Maderian Folk Dancers.  A silent auction, live auction, bingo (run by the Knights of Columbus), baked goodies from the Holy Spirit Altar Society and kiddie games will also be a part of this day.

2013 marks the 91st annual San Pedro Festa. Descendants from the original families and the founders of the established San Pedro Association have been continuing the annual celebration – with the exception of a break during WWII.

San Pedro Festa has been a part of the community since 1992 when immigrants from the Madeira Island, Portugal settled in the Riverbank/Bryte area in what is now northern West Sacramento celebrated their first “Festas Padroeiras” (folk celebration) – which honored their patron saint St. Peter. They celebrated on the banks of the Sacramento River.

These early families had names like Amaral, Andrade, Augustino, Beata, Carvalho, Cardoza, Costa, Enos, Farinha, Frates, Freitas, Fonseca, Gonsalves, Jardim, Lawrence, Lopes, Neves, Neto, Paulo, Pena, Perreira, Perry, Pinto, Ramos, Rodrigues, Santos, Sardine, Sequeira and Silva. They would come together to celebrate their Saints Day. These Festas, or festivals, provided a family event with each subsequent generation bringing their children, to continue to celebrate and reaffirm their cultural heritage.

In the 1940s, the group organized an association and purchased land from the Silva family to establish San Pedro Association and build San Pedro Park.  This association’s primary focus since the 1980 is to maintain its presence in the community and preserve the historic San Pedro Park. During this time a membership was established.

This new generation of members – descendants from original families in the area – decided once more to open San Pedro Festa and it’s park to the public.  The park is located at 708 North Hobson Avenue, West Sacramento.

Photo & information submitted by Vickie Ramos, San Pedro Association.


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