Another year down, another Madeira Feast for the books.

Going into the Feast this year as the emcee, I was unsure of what was in store. There were three factors that stood between the Feast and me:

  1. The Entertainment
  2. The Food
  3. The Crowd

Without further ado, I will state for the record that all three of those elements were phenomenal.

One of the biggest pressures the committee has to endure each year is deciding on what music acts will attract a crowd and entertain. I will personally tell you that I found myself grooving on the sidelines as the bands and artists were performing. Even new talents were discovered, nailing that nerve-racking first impression with impressive music and confidence. Yes, I'm talking about you Morrissey Blvd!

Each and every performance that stepped onto stages 1,2,3 and 4 did a fantastic job keeping the crowd entertained, regardless if the songs were in English or Portuguese. Manel & Friends and ERATOXICA proved to us that local music with Portuguese roots are larger than life, as they rocked the main stage on Saturday and Sunday. Did you know there was an actual "anthem" for the feast? Yeah, me either--but I love it!

I've been asked multiple times over the weekend, "Gazelle, what's your favorite thing about the Feast so far?" Without a doubt, I owe that answer to the heart and soul of the Festa, the Folkloric dancers, Grupo Folclorico. Not once, not twice, but all four days they performed their traditional dance, led by committee member, Director and Feast Chairman Mike Canasta, that has been passed down from generation to generation, keeping the spirit of the Madeiran heritage continuous. This was Canasta's 11th year leading the dance from the streets to the main stage.

TSM/Gazelle

As far as the food goes, that's a no-brainer for me. I will be honest when I say I only had the Bolinhos de Bacalhau and the Carne Espeto, and was blown away. Whoever was complaining that the meat was dry was dead wrong. Shout-out to Jonathan Abreu and his family for perfecting the mouth-watering steak sandwich. Spot on!

TSM/Gazelle

Lastly, there was the crowd.

Thursday night, right before I introduced Queensrÿche to the stage, I was taken back by the sight of thousands surrounding the main stage. It was insanely packed shoulder-to-shoulder, standing-room only. Despite a bit of inclement weather on Saturday, once the weather dried up, the flood gates opened and the crowd poured in.

All four days were a success, and it's safe to say that hundreds of gallons of wine were consumed, large quantities of Bifanas were sold and thousands of new memories and friends were made.

TSM/Gazelle

The 104th Annual Feast of the Blessed Sacrament was a real eye-opener for me this year as far as the hard work that gets put in to make it as successful as it was. From the vendors, to the committee members, all of the volunteers and even the police and medical detail, everyone had a task to fulfill and a job to do. I now have a whole new respect and love for the hard work that is put forth to keep the tradition of a beautiful heritage alive and festive.

Kudos to all! Obrigado!