Portuguese Feast means economic boost for New Bedford

100th Celebration of the Blessed Sacrament

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) – Thanks to a pair of special events that either took or are currently taking place in the heart of the city, it looks like New Bedford will be taking in some serious money this summer.

Last month, the historic whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan, came home to the Massachusetts city, and thousands of spectators came to see its return. Now, starting Thursday afternoon, the city will welcome tens of thousands of visitors for the 100th Annual Feast of the Blessed Sacrament.

Started by four Madeiran immigrant men way back in 1915, the New Bedford feast has grown into the largest Portuguese event on the planet. Feast-goers come from all over the world – this year, organizers say the Feast will host people from Canada, South Africa and — of course — the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira.

2013 New Bedford Portuguese Fest
Thousands pack 2013 New Bedford Portuguese Festival. (Photo: Christine Peabody/WPRI)

“It’s a big tourist attraction in the middle of the summer, and it gives our local shops and restaurants a real boost,” New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “They come from everywhere… they’ve got hotel rooms and everything.”

“What we know is that our website traffic is up,” Larry Abreu Jacques, the Feast’s president said. “Speaking with the Portuguese Feast committee members, they’re all saying the same thing.”

What they’re saying is that this year’s event may be the largest its ever been.

More than 100,000 people are expected to enjoy the authentic food and star-level entertainment of this year’s four-day Feast. Mitchell said those visitors, and the income they bring to local restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions, will bring an estimated $5 million into the city.

Eyewitness News is a proud sponsor of this year’s Feast of the Blessed Sacrament. We will have a news crew at the Feast every day this weekend. Eyewitness News Anchor Shannon Hegy will have live reports from New Bedford starting tonight at 5 on WPRI 12.

You can find full coverage, including photo galleries, news articles and interviews, by clicking here.


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