New Bedford’s first Feast of the Blessed Sacrament celebration since 2019 was likely met with record-setting attendance this past weekend, not just by patrons but by statewide candidates for office as well.
In a rare statewide election year with four open seats for Constitutional office – Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and State Auditor – candidates for each of those elections came down to New Bedford over the weekend to experience the Feast and take the opportunity to engage with some of the over 100,000 feast-goers throughout the four-day event.
Thursday evening at the opening ceremony, outgoing Lt. Governor Karyn Polito spoke to the Feast Committee and a crowd of patrons. She was later joined by Governor Charlie Baker, who was seen out in the crowd enjoying the live music.
“I know this to be the largest Portuguese Feast in the world, and we’re very happy to see it here in the Commonwealth,” Politio said at the ceremony. “Although our official roles will come to a close on January 3rd, you will always have a friend in Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito.”
Also in attendance Thursday evening was Methuen Senator Diana DiZoglio Democratic candidate in the competitive State Auditor race. DiZoglio walked the Feast grounds with State Reps Tony Cabral and Chris Hendricks, as well as City Councilors Ryan Perreira, Shane Burgo and Maria Giesta, all of whom have endorsed her campaign.
Senator DiZoglio attended the Feast again on Friday afternoon for a One SouthCoast Chamber event hosted by City Council President Ian Abreu, who has also endorsed her campaign, before making a stop in the evening to WBSM’s SouthCoast Tonight.
Longtime Salem Mayor and Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate Kim Driscoll also attended the One SouthCoast Chamber event on Friday afternoon, and she too earned the endorsement of Abreu.
Friday evening, Republican State Auditor candidate Anthony Amore walked Madeira Field with Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson before also making an appearance on SouthCoast Tonight. Amore, a world-renowned art theft investigator and former federal agent who rebuilt Logan Airport’s security after 9/11, gave the Feast’s security operation by New Bedford Police and the Department of Homeland Security high marks.
On Saturday, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey came down with former Boston City Council President and Attorney General candidate Andrea Campbell after campaigning together in Boston earlier in the day.
They were joined by Mayor Jon Mitchell, as well as Reps. Cabral, Bill Straus, and Chris Markey as they walked Madeira Field and met with feast-goers. Healey and Mitchell then got behind the booth in Barraca #10 to serve some of the Feast’s signature fare.
On Sunday, Senator and Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate Eric Lesser made the trip from the Springfield suburb of Longmeadow to march in the Feast parade with Reps. Cabral, Hendricks, Markey and Straus. Cabral and Hendricks showed their support for Lessers bid for lieutenant governor by sporting his campaign stickers on their shirts during the parade.
According to Lesser’s social media, he later met with his old boss, former President Barack Obama, on Martha’s Vineyard.
Sunday evening, Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl was in attendance to speak with feast-goers.
After two years of uncertainty for the future of the Feast in a post-COVID world, this past weekend has demonstrated that the Feast not only remains the flagship cultural celebration of the SouthCoast, but a must-attend for politicos seeking statewide office.