The summer of ‘22 is shaping up to be one continuous party, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years. Three to be exact.
That’s because for the last two years, many of the city’s biggest events were canceled due to the pandemic. They’re all back, joined by a brand-new three-day festival bringing together more than 30 local organizations.
“I think we’re all really excited about the summer,” said Lee Heald, program director at AHA! New Bedford. “I think it’s going to be a great experience for us to all be out and together again, outdoors and on the streets.”
We’re excited too, but keep in mind that changes in public health could alter plans. As of May 26, these events are on schedule but check your local listings. Rising cases of Covid-19 or guidance from public health organizations or the City of New Bedford may affect these events.
Let’s dive right in.
Feast of the Blessed Sacrament
What would summer be without The Feast? The signature event of New Bedford was canceled in 2020 and 2021, so we’re starving for its return.
One hundred and six years old, it’s the largest festival celebrating Portuguese culture in the world and the largest ethnic festival of any kind in all of New England.
Four days of carne d’espeto, malassadas and Madeira wine begin on Thursday, Aug. 4.
When: Aug. 4-7
Where: 50 Madeira Ave.
“I’m so thrilled that we’re going to have the feast this year – it’s a sigh of relief,” said 2022 President Richard Fernandes, who was nominated in 2020 but had to wait until this year to serve. “I hope it’s going to attract a lot of people – I know it will. A lot of people miss the feast so I think we’re gonna have a big attraction.”
On opening night, Led Zeppelin tribute band “Get the Led Out” will take the main stage. Other highlights include continuous live entertainment on four stages, the barbeque pit, all the food you could dream of and beverages for all ages.
Family Day is Saturday, which means half price options for seniors, free sandwiches and soda for children as well as children’s activities in the afternoon.
On Sunday, the traditional parade returns at 2 p.m. with more than 40 different organizations taking part.
50th Annual Cape Verdean Recognition Parade
Cape Verdean Recognition Week concludes on Saturday, July 2 with another of the city’s most cherished events, the Parade. And boy is it special this year.
Celebrating its 50th year, the Cape Verdean Recognition Parade is sure to draw big crowds lining the streets of the West End to celebrate the community.
“Everyone’s excited, especially the community members,” said Diane Gomes, chairperson of the Cape Verdean Recognition Committee. “Everyone’s digging their heels in and trying to add some specialty to the parade.”
When: 11 a.m., July 2
Where: Parade starts from Buttonwood Park
2022 Grand Marshall Patricia Andrade will lead the procession to the Cape Verdean Veterans Memorial Hall. A highly regarded surgeon and a graduate of New Bedford High, Andrade is a giant in the community. She recently returned from a medical mission to Cape Verde, where she collaborated with doctors there. In the past few years she donated her time to educate the New Bedford community about Covid-19 and how to prevent its spread. In addition, she has been on the New Bedford Board of Health since 1995 and serves on the board of trustees for the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Zeiterion Theater.
The parade begins on July 2 at 11 a.m. from Buttonwood Park and culminates a great week celebrating the Cape Verdean community.
Beginning on June 26, the committee is celebrating a week of Cape Verdean recognition by first honoring members of the committee who have passed with a memorial mass at Our Lady of Assumption Church at 9 a.m.
On June 27 at 6 p.m, the Cape Verdean flag will be raised at New Bedford City Hall in an event that will be complete with food, music and dancing in the street, said Gomes.
On June 29, a scholarship ceremony at the New Bedford Whaling Museum will honor New Bedford teens planning to attend college in 2022. In previous years, the committee awarded up to $50,000 in scholarships.
On June 30, the committee is hosting a recognition music festival at Cisco Brewers at 3 p.m. featuring musicians Chubby and Tiny Tavares, Mike “Tunes” Antunes, Calu Bana and more. Tickets for this event are $35, with proceeds benefiting the recognition parade.
“We would really, really like this to be one of our major events,” said Gomes. “And we’d like to invite everyone from the city to participate.”
Brand new this year is a three-day event called 20Mi2, representing what New Bedford has to offer throughout its 20-square miles. From June 9 through June 11, a different part of the city will be represented with programs hosted by more than 30 local organizations, non-profit groups and businesses.
20Mi2 is the brainchild of Beatriz Oliveira of Beatriz & Company, and Dena Haden, who runs the Co-Creative Center in downtown New Bedford. According to Oliveira, 20Mi2 is designed to “activate as much space as possible.”
“My desire is for people … to appreciate new spaces they haven’t seen before,” said Oliveira. “We want them to gain a new appreciation for spaces they don’t typically go to. We’re so accustomed to our own comfort zones around the city.”
When: June 9-11
Where: Various locations
in New Bedford
Thursday, June 9 will focus on downtown New Bedford and the 02740 zip code. AHA night celebrations include a Pride block party hosted by the South Coast LGBTQ+ Network, and free museum admission. On Purchase Street, the Zeiterion Theater and UMass Dartmouth’s College of Visual & Performing Arts will set up a 500-seat table with settings designed by artists so that guests can bring their own food and enjoy the company of others.
Friday, June 10 will focus on the North End and the 02746, 02745 zip codes. The Phillips Avenue Pocket Park will feature a pop-up vendor market, performers and live music spotlighting the local Guatemalan community. Meanwhile, at the Morna Cafe, master percussionist Sidy Maiga will lead a participatory workshop with 30 djembe drums, described as a rope-tuned, skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands.
Finally, on Saturday, June 11, 20Mi2 will highlight the South End or the 02744 zip code. You can look forward to open rowing and open sailing trips hosted by the Azorean Maritime Heritage Society, and a hip-hop pop up hosted by 3rd EyE Unlimited and The Communal Space at the pavilion overlooking Clark’s Cove.
In addition to location-specific events, 20Mi2 offers three days of bicycle tours led by The New Bedford Starchasers, a sci-fi themed group of do-gooding cyclists who organize charity events throughout the city.
“There’s so much to appreciate here. Like any other city we have our problems, but I think there’s more positive here than negative,” said Oliveria. “Hopefully this will continue to be an annual event that just continues to grow.”
New Bedford Folk Festival
Since 1996, the New Bedford Folk Festival, which until 2012 was called Summerfest, has made New Bedford a once-a-year destination for fans of folk music and artisan crafts. In 2020, the fest was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary but due to Covid-19, the event was called off.
Now, the Zeiterion Theater is once again hosting the New Bedford Folk Festival downtown on July 9 and 10. This year’s festival will have more than 50 artisan craft vendors and 52 performers across seven stages, 17 of which will be playing on the festival’s free and public “South Coast Stage.”
“It’s a good festival this year. We tried to bring in performers who were favorites,” said Alan Korolenko, who founded the New Bedford Folk Fest with his wife Helene. The pair are now the artistic directors of the event.
“We are also still bringing in some performers that have never been to the festival,” he said. “We’re always expanding who people see and experience.”
When: July 9-10
Where: Zeiterion Theater
Korolenko emphasized that what sets the New Bedford Folk Festival apart from other similar events are musician workshops. At these themed jam sessions, performers gather on stage and riff on a given theme. Past themes included “The Great American Songbook,” and “Music of Home and Family.” This year, said Korolenko, attendees can look forward to 25 or so different workshops during the weekend event.
“What happens in these workshops is that [musicians] start to do things they don’t normally do in their concerts,” said Korolenko. “These are great musicians and they have a wide array of interests and many, many songs and talents that you don’t see. I think it brings out the best in them and it’s really what the festival is all about.”
In addition to music and artisan vendors, food trucks and a beer garden will be available to the public on William Street.
“When they leave the festival, we want them to leave with a good feeling,” said Korolenko. “And if we’ve done that then we’ve done our job.”
Whaling City Festival
Buttonwood Park will once again be home to the Whaling City Festival. After a successful 2021 event that saw around 80,000 attendees, this year’s festival, which runs from July 7-10, aims to move closer to pre-Covid attendance.
When: July 7-10
Where: Buttonwood Park
“Back in the day, we used to do 100,000 plus, easily. Hands down. Not even a question,” said festival president Michael Sylvia.
This year’s festival will feature a carnival in the Buttonwood Park field, live wrestling, a custom car show on July 10, trucks selling food and drink, and more than 70 artisan and retail vendors (an increase from the approximately 50 vendors who set up in 2021).
“It’s just kind of a fun family tradition. We’re trying to go back to how we used to be,” said Sylvia. “It’s nice to see friends and family members you haven’t seen in years and that’s what happens at Whaling City [Festival] every year. So it’s like a big reunion.”
Buy Black New Bedford
Founded in 2020 by Justina Perry with the goal of highlighting Black-owned businesses across the South Coast, Buy Black New Bedford is hosting three vendor markets this summer across the city. These events follow the success of last summer’s Black-owned business pop-up market.
“[Public reception] has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Perry. “We were able to survey folks after some of our events and they were just really grateful to us for creating this. They were like ‘Please do this more often, do this every weekend.’”
When and where:
- June 11 at West Beach
- June 19 at Rotch-Jones-Duff House garden
- July 14 at Dream Makers Market
On June 11, the Black in Business Mini-Market will be held in conjunction with 20Mi2 at New Bedford’s West Beach. On June 19, the Black in Business Juneteenth Vendor Market will return for its second year at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House garden. Finally, on July 14, the Dream Makers Market will set up at Wings Court in downtown New Bedford, bringing together young entrepreneurs and live entertainment in a family-friendly event.
Buy Black New Bedford also runs an online directory of Black-owned businesses across South Coast Massachusetts.
“We’re looking to create a tradition in New Bedford where we celebrate Juneteenth and celebrate freedom and create space to support Black business and culture,” said Perry, referring to the Juneteenth holiday which honors the day that the last enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned that they were free. “It’s a way to build community and network within the businesses on our directory. It’s been really significant, the impact of what we’ve done, to go beyond our online platform.”
Don’t Miss events
Celebrate Independence Day with fireworks launched by the City of New Bedford. July 4, tentatively at 9 p.m.
The Day of Portugal Festival is a three-day event celebrating Portugal and Portuguese culture in New Bedford. The event offers food, vendors and live music. June 3, at 6:30 p.m.; June 4 and June 5, from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., 81 Tinkham Street. Free admission.
Running year round, AHA! Night in downtown New Bedford will continue to offer free events on the second Thursday of each month throughout the summer.
Cisco Brewers, one of the area’s favorite summer hangouts, has a ton of fun stuff going on in the next several months. Check out their always changing lineup.
The Fairhaven Village Militia and the Wareham Minutemen and Militia Companies present a two-day historical encampment at Fort Phoenix. This event features costumed reenactors living as they did during the 1770s. May 28, from 9 a.m. to sunset; May 29, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Fort Phoenix, Fort Street, Fairhaven. Free admission.
The Craft Beer and Food Truck Festa will be held at the Madeira Field and will offer a selection of food trucks and craft beer vendors for adults 21 and older. The event also offers live music by Craig Demelo, Nick Vieria, the NB Rude Boys, Jacob and Jackson, and Montage Bleu. June 18, from noon to 8 p.m., 50 Madeira Avenue. Tickets must be purchased prior to the event.
Music lovers can enjoy outdoor concerts throughout New Bedford with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra’s “Sonata Saturdays,” playing outside The Drawing Room at 22 William Street on the fourth Saturday of each month from May to October. The 10th annual New Bedford Jazzfest will be held this summer to benefit Your Theatre, although no definite date or performance line-up has been announced.
The Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum is hosting a collection of events this summer including Your Theatre’s “Plays in the Garden” on July 23 and 24, and Reverie Theater Group’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at 7:30 p.m. on August 11-13 and 18-20.
The New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park will hold a series of free events this summer, including a weekly “Abolitionist Fair” every Sunday throughout June, July and August, which will explore 19th Century abolitionist movements with living history actors. On June 9, national park artist-in-residence Kate Sheridan runs a workshop on queerness in comics, exploring LGBTQIA+ representation in comics.
That’s Summer ‘22 in a nutshell. Lots of fun, hopefully lots of sun, and getting back to some normalcy. It’s certainly a group effort that offers Greater New Bedford residents something to look forward to, said AHA! New Bedford’s Heald.
“In a city like New Bedford, which is so dynamic and made up of so many cultures, it’s important to forge partnerships that provide a fabric for people,” he said. “It’s important to balance out people’s resources and opportunities, and it’s important to be available to all … those are the values that we bring, and over the years that has made a huge difference for New Bedford.”
Sawyer Smook-Pollitt is a New Bedford-based freelance writer and frequent correspondent for The New Bedford Light.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on May 27, 2022, to correct the date of the Cape Verdean Recognition Committee’s scholarship awards ceremony. It will be held on June 29. Also corrected was the cost of the Committee’s music festival at Cisco. Admission is $35.
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