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Portugal Festival Draws Crowd of 1,500 Strong

Day features, music, food and fun

Churrasqueira Bairrada Restaurant in Mineola held its first annual Portugal Day in Mineola on Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. in their back parking lot. Manuel Carvalho, owner of the restaurant, and his wife Jackie and son Hector Fomseca formed the event to bring Portuguese culture together in Mineola, to which they saw more than 1,500 people arrive for a day/night of music, dancing and family.

An enormous tent was set up in the parking lot, where families and friends sat at tables and couches to enjoy the festivities. Music for the event was provided by four different bands: Sugartown, Centerfold, Ranchos Folclóricos Sonhos e Juventude de Portugal: Portuguese Dance Group and Quim Barreiros. 

Ranchos is from the Portuguese Club of Mineola, which was founded in the 1920s.  Featuring more than 20 members, they brought authentic Portuguese music and dancing to the festival.  Quim Barreiros is a Portuguese pimba writer/singer, whose most recent album is the 2011 release O Brioche da Sofia. Sugartown is a Portuguese band from Long Island, and Centerfold is another Portuguese party band from Massachusetts.

Everyone in attendance also gathered to watch the Portugal vs. Germany Euro 2012 soccer match on various flat screen televisions. Despite Portugal’s loss, everyone kept their spirits high and continued to celebrate into the night.

“We wanted to gather people of our culture together for a wonderful experience like this,” said Manny Carvalho. “We blocked off the street (Banbury Road between Willis Avenue and Mineola Boulevard), everything is safe and everyone will have a wonderful time.”

Security for the event was provided by the Mineola Jr. Fire Department and a portion of the profits were donated to the Mineola Athletic Association, Mineola Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Mineola Auxiliary Police and Mineola Junior Fire Department.

Svetnadia Salon in Mineola had a table set up for those in attendance to sample their work such as hair extensions. A table was also set up for Carvalho’s company Carvalho Imports, a local distributor of quality foods and products. Speciality items include rice, olives, olive oil, Portuguese sea salt and natural hardwood barbecue charcoal.  For more information, visit their website at www.carvalhoimports.com.

Hector Fomseca was the event coordinator, and conceived the idea for Portugal Day with his family.

“I think this will be a great thing for Mineola, to bring Portuguese culture together in a small location and celebrate our heritage,” said Fomseca. “We look forward to doing this again next year.”