The New Bedford Police Union is to be commended for its leadership and dedication to the community by picking up the tired, old Whaling City Festival several years ago and dusting it off, reformatting it and presenting it for the people of New Bedford to enjoy.

The union stepped up when nobody else would to save the day and make at least one weekend each summer a bit happier for area kids. Staffing issues have forced the union to end its involvement with this year's 2019 Family Fun Festival Carnival & Circus, scheduled for Buttonwood Park in July. All may not be lost, however, as former festival volunteer Michael Sylvia is attempting to keep the event from folding.

Whaling City Festival

In its heyday, the Whaling City Festival was the place to be in July. People came from all over to enjoy the midway, the carnival rides, the food, the entertainment, and the craft vendors. The custom car show on festival Sunday drew fans from far and wide. It too ended several years back, bringing a decades-old tradition to a close.

The Whaling City Festival would be missed if canceled, but it had a good run. Over the last decade or so, the festival had become a mere shadow of its former self and it became more and more difficult to find a reason to go unless you had children to put on the carnival rides.

My memories of the Whaling City Festival include Tavares, Up With People, fireworks and laser shows and rows upon rows of interesting vendor tables. Slowly but surely, the presentation got leaner and leaner.


Kudos to the New Bedford Police Union for keeping the Whaling City Festival going for as long as it did and to Michael Sylvia for attempting to keep it going, but it is clearly time to lower the curtain on the thing. I just wish the union, which is involved in contract talks with the City of New Bedford, had walked away without trying and politicize the festival's demise.

The union's efforts to salvage and maintain the festival for as long as it did speaks volumes for the kind of men and women we have protecting and truly serving the citizens of New Bedford. Go out on a positive note. We appreciate your efforts on our behalf.

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.