For the second year in a row, New Bedford's Feast of the Blessed Sacrament is canceled due to COVID-19. Before last year, the feast had never been canceled in its more than 100-year history. Even a world war couldn't keep the festa from happening.

I wholeheartedly supported the decision to pull the plug on the feast last year. By the time a decision had to be made, we still didn't know enough about COVID to allow it to go on. Plans had to be made and time was running out.

But this year the decision was premature.

Thanks to President Trump's Operation Warp Speed, vaccines were available and people were being immunized already in December. Even Mayor Jon Mitchell, who urged feast organizers to cancel last year, told me he expected that things would be much different this year and he expected that at least some summer events might be held again. That proved to be true Thursday with the announcement that the Whaling City Festival is returning this July.

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The announcement last week that Governor Charlie Baker will reopen Massachusetts fully on May 29 must have felt like a gut punch to feast organizers. Concerts, ballgames, festivals, parades, and other events were already being scheduled in other communities as the Commonwealth began to return to normal. But the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament will not go on again this year.

Hindsight is always 20/20 of course, but I wish the feast organizers had waited a bit longer before canceling. The cancellation of the feast means another opportunity for spreading the Portuguese-American culture has been missed and the loss of a whole lot of dollars.

Without a doubt, the feast will return next summer and it will be bigger and better than before. Too bad things worked out the way they did.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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