Festa da Serreta

Serreta, Festa da

September 8-15
The Festa da Serreta that has been held annually since 1932 in Gustine, California, is based on a similar festival held on the island of Terceira in the Azores, from which many of Gustine's residents emigrated. It is held in honor of Nossa Senhora dos Milagres, "Our Lady of Miracles," for whom a 16th-century priest built a small chapel in the Azorean village of Serreta.
The week-long festival attracts thousands of visitors. Highlights include the Bodo do Leite ("Banquet of Milk") fresh-drawn from the cows as is the practice in the Azores. There are also cantorías ao desafio (extemporaneous song contests), which draw contestants from all over California and even some Azoreans.
The image of Nossa Senhora is carried in a procession from the church to a portable chapel, or capela, that is brought out specifically for use on this occasion. A group of women sit in the chapel and watch over the donations of money that are left there. Another festival event is the traditional bullfight, which takes place in a rectangular arena. The bull is held by a long rope, his horns are padded, and the men do not so much fight him as play with him.
CONTACTS:
Our Lady of Miracles Church
307 Linden Ave.
Gustine, CA 95322
209-854-6692
Portuguese National Tourist Office
590 Fifth Ave., 4th Fl.
New York, NY 10036
800-767-8842 or 212-354-4403; fax: 212-764-6137
www.visitportugal.com
SOURCES:
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 376