Just as quickly as the 107th Feast of the Blessed Sacrament came and went, preparation for the 108th is already underway. A new Feast committee has been chosen and a new wave of youth has taken over the 1st chair as Tony Abreu was recently sworn in as the Feast President of the 108th celebration.

Each year, the popular and largest Portuguese Feast in the world takes place in the heart of New Bedford. Each year, the club sponsors the Feast and takes pride in welcoming immigrants from Madeira to the community.

This is Abreu's fifth year serving on the Feast Committee, but first time as President. He has served in the role of Corresponding Secretary and Recording Secretary in years past.

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Alongside Abreu is his cabinet of elected officials:

  • Paul Leconte Jr. Vice President
  • Aaron Taylor. Treasurer
  • Justin Gallagher. Recording Secretary
  • Cameron Piche. Correspondence Secretary

"It's something (Feast President) I've always wanted to do," Abreu said, "I've been a member of the club for 21 years, and my family has always been heavily involved, so even at a young age, I was exposed to the 'Feast Life' and introduced to the hard work that goes behind the scenes. Just joining the club is like a right of passage once you turn 18 years old.

Becoming Feast President is no easy walk in the park and involves a good chunk of commitment and dedicated time. Especially having a full-time job, family, and everyday life.

Each year, the first meeting for the following Feast year takes place on the last day (Sunday) of the current Feast where the committee and club members allocate time to put away the decorations and clean up after a four-day celebration.

"We had our first meeting on September 10th and began preparing for winter projects and weatherization to get through the cold season," Abreu explained, "It's a busy year, not just the summer. The executive board sits down every week to go over things moving forward including paperwork and permitting, so that we don't fall behind."

Abreu's uncle was president in the '90s and has family dating back to the 1940s who have served on the committee. He's followed in their footsteps to ensure the culture and authenticity of the Feast remain strong and carry forward year after year. It's safe to say he's no "newbie" when it comes to serving within the club.

Courtesy Tony Abreu
Courtesy Tony Abreu

As President of the 108th Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, what key points do you plan on bringing to the table?

"Portuguese entertainment is what I want to bump up. It's been more Americanized and has gradually become 60% non-Portuguese to 40% Portuguese over the years," Abreu said, "I've been all over the world visiting feasts from both mainland and Madeira, and I'd like to keep it as old-school and traditional as possible. We do have some ideas to introduce more authentic typical Madeira food items, and traditional flowers, and get Portuguese entertainment on the main stage."

The overall takeaway of the Feast is whether you're Madeiran or not, everyone is Portuguese that weekend and Abreu and his team are looking forward to seeing everyone next year. Club Madeirense is always looking for new members with Madeira heritage, whether it's on your mother's or father's side, the club will be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can email them at clubesss@comcast.net.

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