The festa that draws thousands of people to Gustine to share their faith and celebrate their heritage will once again be an in-person event.
The Our Lady of Miracles Celebration is a tradition that spans more than 80 years in Gustine, and traces its roots back to the Azores villages from which many local Portuguese immigrants originated.
The traditions passed down through the generations are on full display at the Celebration, with its processions, folklore entertainment, dances, Portuguese foods and much more.
The Celebration gets under way Friday with a series of novenas leading up to the big weekend of activities which bring the event to a close.
The bodo de leite, or parade of animals, will begin at 10 a.m. Sept.11. The procession, which has a theme this year of “Children of God,” will depart from the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles and travel over several blocks of Highway 33/140 and through downtown Gustine before arriving at Henry Miller Park.
Following the procession will be singers and musicians. Singers are: Jose Santos and John Branco of Terceira; Jose Ribeiro of Modesto; Antonio Azevedo of Hilmar; Manuel Dos Santos of Artesia; Abel Raposo of Merced; and Lenio Pereira of Hilmar. Musicians are: Dimas Toledo of Turlock; Manuel Avila of Ceres; and Steve Soares and Tommy Viera, both of Turlock.
After the bodo de leite there will be folklore dance performances from Grupo Etnografico Perolas do Atlantico of Casa Dos Acores; Grupo Folclorico Bela Auroura of Our Lady of Assumption; Grupo Folclorico Saudades do Ribateijo of the San Joaquin Valley; Luso America Council #24 North San Joaquin; Luso America Council #4 of Sacramento; and Luso America Council #8 of Manteca.
Following the dance performances there will be a live auction at 1 p.m. Sept. 11 at the park of the animals donated to the celebration.
At 6:30 p.m. there will be a mass followed by a candlelight procession to the park, where Our Lady will stay for the night, with veneration by the faithful.
The parade from GPS Hall to the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles, which will include visiting queens, will start at 9 a.m. Sept. 12. The mass will be led by Fr. Luis Cordeiro and Fr. Isaque Meneses and Exa. Joseph Brennan, Bishop of Fresno.
Following the mass there will be a procession of statues, including Our Lady, along with musicians and representatives of the Portuguese organizations to the park. The end of the parade will be marked with sopas for all in attendance.
Festivities will continue until midnight when a procession will return the statue of Our Lady to the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles.
Bloodless bullfights will be held Monday at Bella Vista Park. The evening begins with the presentation of queens and officers at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13.
Ashley Barker, the daughter of Robert and Maggie Barker is the 2021 OLM Queen. Her sidemaids are Emma Azevedo, the daughter of Michael and Isabel Azevedo; and Belina Matos, the daughter of Victor and Udilia Matos.
The 2021 OLM Jr. Queen is Emma Miguel, the daughter of Dennis and Melissa Miguel. her sidemaids are Leila Miguel and Amelia Miguel, both the daughters of Dennis and Melissa Miguel.