OPINION | Barry Richard: Has The Feast Lost Some of Its Luster?
I have no hard numbers to go by. No soft numbers either for that matter but it seems there was more elbow room at the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament this year... at least the two nights I visited the feast grounds.
Don't misunderstand, the feast was certainly packed over the weekend. But it just didn't appear sardine-in-a-can-like to me. We noticed that the crowd for Thursday evening's opening ceremonies seemed lighter than normal. While the crowd began to swell towards nightfall it never felt unmanageable to me. It appeared easier to maneuver than in past years. Was it just my imagination? The same was true for Friday night.
I've heard lots of grumbling too. Mostly about the entertainment line up. Many social media patrons were bemoaning what they felt was a snub to Portuguese performers this year. Many stated that with the exception of the ever-popular folkloric performers there were no other Portuguese bands or performers.
I get that many feast-goers attend the annual four day event for the social connections, not to mention the beer and Madeira wine that is consumed by the barrelful, but the entertainment schedule is also a major draw. Some folks that I know found the line up to be lacking any real reason to fight the traffic and walk a gazillion miles from some remote parking space.
The popular alternative band, Holy Cow was sent packing by feast officials halfway through their performance because they were a bit too edgy for some. While I happen to like Holy Cow I can understand that they might not be everybody's cup of tea. So, why then were they booked in the first place?
It seems as though organizers feel the need to bring a national act to the feast but with limited resources they tend to settle for one hit wonders or bans with limited appeal. The Spin Doctors? Really? Give me Ken Pittman's Bon Jovi cover band, Living on a Bad Name, the Aerosmith cover band, Draw the Line or The Journey Cover Band, The Great Escape as headliners ANYTIME! All three draw huge crowds when they play the feast.
For the most part the feast organizers seem to get it right every year. Let's hope this year's entertainment faux pas was just a blip and that they get back on course for next year. Forget the national acts. Popular cover bans are a much better bet. And don't forget to include some Portuguese performers next year. Their absence was glaringly noted by the faithful.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.