Every third weekend of July, the Vineyard’s Portuguese-American Club holds it’s annual Feast of the Holy Ghost on Vineyard Avenue in Oak Bluffs. Officially named The Holy Ghost Association, but more commonly called the P.A., the association was formed in 1930, and every year since 1942, they have held a feast to honor Catholic saint and former queen of Portugal, Isabella, known for her charity.
Along with the food and drink, the festival also includes carnival games with prizes for the kids, live music and a parade on Sunday.
The feast is also all about celebrating the Portuguese heritage that many islanders share, with traditional Portuguese Folkloric dancers and music.
Similar to Chorizo, Linguica is a smoke-cured pork sausage seasoned with garlic and paprika, housed in a hog casing. Popular in former Portuguese colonies like Brazil and Goa, you’ll also find it anywhere that Portuguese sailors settled, like Southeastern Mass, Rhode Island and Hawaii, where you can even find it on the menu at McDonalds. It just wouldn’t be the feast without some grilled linguica.
One of the most popular events is the auctions for a cooked lobster and loaf of Portuguese sweet bread.
We’re not sure how it started, but it’s been going on for as long as anyone seems to remember, feast-goers bid against each other, hoping to land one of the more than 100 lobsters that will be auctioned off.
There’s no shortage of interesting food being served, like these cacoila sandwiches. Cacoila (locally pronounced ka-sir-la) is a Azorean dish that takes its name from the black clay pots that were traditionally used to cook the meat in. Originally a type of stew, at the feast, it is served on a bun, pulled pork style.
“Sopa” as you might guess, is a type of Portuguese soup, although which recipe is the “true” sopa can be hotly contested. The version served at the feast is what most people in New England would recognize as “kale soup,” with linguica, onions, potatoes and of course, kale. On Sunday, sopa is served for free, echoing the charity that Queen Isabella was revered for.
Rolled, shaped and fried right on the spot, the fried dough from the Dough Doctors is dipped in sugar as it comes out of the frier.
Because the dough is still piping hot, the sugar melts a little, forming a crunchy crust on top of the dough’s crisp exterior.
Warm and chewy on the inside, it makes the perfect sweet snack on a warm July afternoon.
A wide variety of foods are available, including standards like hot dogs, hamburgers and this fried chicken diner, served with corn and a roll.
During the day, the feast is a great family event, with people of all ages laughing, eating and just generally enjoying a day to socialize and unwind.
For years, multiple generations of the Santos family has been operating the shish kebob station. Place your order, and they will fill a skewer with marinated chunks of beef and place above the charcoal grill for you.
You turn the skewer yourself, and decide when to take the meat off the grill, so, depending on your grilling skills, your beef should be done exactly to your liking. When you give the word, the meat is pulled from the skewer using a v-shaped tool, and served with a hunk of bread.
The Feast is a great combination of a fair, concert and neighborhood party, with a healthy amount of history and culture thrown in. Admission and parking are free, but it pays to show up early, as the lot fills up fast so people also park along Vineyard Avenue. Better yet, take the VTA and enjoy a few beers with your feasting.
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