Feast celebrates Portuguese heritage

Tim Platt, left, of Bethlehem and John DeCampos Jr. of Naugatuck cook up chickens at the Sao Paio Feast at the Portuguese Club in Naugatuck last year. This year’s festival is Labor Day weekend. -RA ARCHIVE

Tim Platt, left, of Bethlehem and John DeCampos Jr. of Naugatuck cook up chickens at the Sao Paio Feast at the Portuguese Club in Naugatuck last year. This year’s festival is Labor Day weekend. -RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — As the end of August approaches the borough prepares for soccer, eels and all things Portuguese.

The Naugatuck Portuguese Club will host its 64th Annual Feast of Sao Paio Aug. 29 through Aug. 31.

Tony Marques, one of the festival’s organizers, said the feast, which honors Saint Paio, began unofficially in the 1940s as most of the Portuguese community in Naugatuck was from the Murtosa region of Portugal, where the feast originated.

The festival was officially started in 1950 by the ladies auxiliary with a one-day feast. As the festival grew over the years, it added new events that have now become part of the tradition of the weekend.

The festival begins Aug. 29 with the annual Portuguese mayor of the day celebration at Town Hall, 229 Church St. This year the borough will bestow the title on Al Janerio.

The feast features live music and traditional Portuguese food each day at the club, 110 Rubber Ave. The 29th annual Sao Paio Invitational Soccer Tournament will run throughout the weekend. The tournament concludes with an awards presentation Aug. 31 at 3 p.m.

A folkloric dancing exhibition is Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. and a dobrada lunch, which is a tripe and chickpea recipe from Portugal, is Aug. 31 at 12 p.m.

Another tradition the festival carries on is the selling of deep fried eels.

Marques said the tradition started when members of the club would go do to the wharfs of New Haven and catch the eels themselves. Although they are no longer able to catch them in New Haven the club has kept the tradition alive.

The annual Sao Paio 5K Road Race is Aug. 30. The race, which is a fundraiser for the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls, features a 5K, a fun walk and a kid’s fun run for children 12 years old and under. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. at the club. The registration fee is $25 in advance, $30 on race day, $15 for students and walkers, and $5 for the kid’s fun run. To register online, visit register.fasttracktiming.com. For more information on the race, call Luci DaSilva at (203) 729-9621 or Jim Goggin at (203) 996-6675.

A Portuguese wine tasting has been added to the festivities this year. The tasting is all three days. For $15 people will be able try five different wines. There is no charge to attend the festival.

“This is about keeping our heritage alive and the traditions for the younger generations to enjoy,” said Fran Areias, one of many event organizers, about the feast.

The Republican American contributed to this article.

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