Gustine's festa in its 77th year

People come from all over for weekend event

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comSeptember 8, 2013 

CW - Gustine Festa

CHRISTOPHER WINTERFELDT/cwinterfeldt@mercedsun-star.com Representing the Gustine Festa, at left, Sabrina Rocha, 16 of Gustine, Sarah Simoes, 17 of Elk Grove, and Sarh Costa, 16 of Hilmar, walk in front of the statue of Our Lady of Mercy during the Parade of Queens on Sunday (9-9-2012) in Gustine at the Our Lady of Miracles Celebration also known as the Gustine Festa. Catholic churches of portuguese heritage from all over the state attended the five day event, starting Thursday and lasting till Monday, which included a parade of Queens and Sidemaids from each church to the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles, mass, and a bullfight on Monday. The Gustine Chamber of Commerce estimated that around 5,000 people attendend the event.

CHRISTOPHER WINTERFELDT — Merced Sun-Star

Tradition embodied in parades, religious services, dances and a bloodless bullfight is on display as Gustine continues its nine-day festa celebration through this weekend.

An estimated 5,000 people from around the world are congregating in Gustine for the 77th annual festa, a celebration of Portuguese culture.

It's the biggest event of the year in Gustine, according to Flori Nunes, a past president and director of the Our Lady of Miracles Society, which stages the Portuguese festa celebration.

Today's events include a 10 a.m. cow parade known as the "Bodo de Leite" or Miracle of Faith, which runs from Highway 33 to the Gustine Pentecost Society Hall. Cows adorned with flowers parade along with floats, musicians, singers and dancers.

Also today, there will be a 2 p.m. auction of cows, goats and horses, followed by a 6:30 p.m. Mass at Our Lady of Miracles Catholic Church.

Sunday's activities will include a 9 a.m. parade from the GPS Hall to the Our Lady of Miracles Shrine and a 10:30 a.m. Mass. After the service, sopas will be served in the GPS Hall.

This will be followed by a 2 p.m. auction of gifts, a 7 p.m. Rosary and an 8 p.m. dance in the GPS Hall, where queens and committee members will be presented at 9 p.m.

Monday will see entertainment at 7 p.m., followed by presentation of the queens, and an 8 p.m. bloodless bullfight in Bella Vista Park. Admission to the bullfight is $25 for adults.

Judi Gandy, Gustine Chamber of Commerce director, said Gustine's celebration is one of the largest in the United States and brings in thousands to the community. The chamber office will stay open for the weekend to direct visitors to community landmarks and help field information about festa schedules.

People from all over the United States, Canada, Portugal and the Azores come to the Gustine festa, Gandy said.

Nunes said Gustine's festa is the largest such event in the state.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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