The smell of fresh barbecued pork and chicken wafted through Friday night, seasoned with the unmistakable electronic sounds of carnival rides and laughter as the Portuguese-American Fest returned to Mineola.
Families were lined up early when the gates opened for the three-day festival with many staying through the evening.
“We usually get a lot of people to come here,” Portuguese American Club President Manuel Ramalhete, said about the nearly decade old celebration of Portuguese traditions and family fun. “The community here is very big.”
Mineola is home to a very large Portuguese population, which Ramalhete explained is a big part of why the festival has been growing over the years. Other attendees come from Farmingdale, Jamaica and parts of Queens which also feature Portuguese populations.
Many members of the community came out Friday night to celebrate the opening of this year's feast. Many brought their entire family and met up with old friends under the giant tent which served as the dining area.
Children and adults took their turn trying out the different attractions, attempting to shoot hoops or fish for prizes while parents watched as the kids took a spin on the “Dizzy Dragon.” A few parents even joined their kids to glide down at full speed on the giant slide.
Inside a long line weaved its way about to taste various traditional Portuguese dishes served by the Portuguese American Club including bifana, a Portuguese pork sandwich, frango, which is barbecued chicken and sardinhas, sardines which come in a tray of six or 12.
Classic carnival staples like hotdogs, burgers, snow cones, popcorn, candied apples, cotton candy and chocolate covered cheesecake were also available.
This weekend will include traditional Portuguese dancing and music as part of the celebration.
A soccer game between the Portuguese clubs from Jamaica and Farmingdale will also take center stage Saturday at 3 p.m.
The festival closes on Sunday at 10 p.m.