BRISTOL BOROUGH >> Music, food and perhaps a river breeze will transform the Bristol Wharf and the Delaware Riverfront into a Caribbean island paradise on Saturday, July 28 from 12 to 8 p.m.
For the 47th year, the Puerto Rican Cultural Association of Bucks County hosts its Annual Puerto Rican Day Festival and everyone’s invited to attend. The rain date is Sunday, July 29.
“This event is a day for all nationalities to enjoy our culture, food, live music, dancing, children’s workshops and experiencing the islands for just a few hours,” said Maria Berrocal, the president of the Puerto Rican Cultural Association of Bucks County which stages the festival every summer.
“Come on down and let go of the stress,” adds vice president Mereda McCulley-Breustedt. “Enjoy the good food and just have fun. The music itself will energize you.”
This year’s theme - “Puerto Rico Remains Strong” - will remind everyone of the hurricane recovery efforts that continue on the island. “The people there are resilient. They are hard working people. And we want people to remember them while we’re enjoying our festival,” said McCulley-Breustedt.
Bringing the music and the colorful dances of the island to the riverfront this year will be individual singers, bands and dancing groups, including the Domination and the Estilo Dancers. Radio Station More 101.1 FM also will be broadcasting from the event.
There also will be plenty for the kids to do, including crafts, face painting, a beading craft and a cultural coloring contest. And a bubble machine will add to the fun.
“Our goal is to make the festival family centered, which is an important aspect of our lives as Puerto Ricans. Everything revolves around family.”
“And we want our new generation to learn about and experience their culture because they are the roots of our legacy,” said Berrocal.
Another main attraction will be the mouth-watering Puerto Rican food, including empanadas, alcapurrias, fried plantains, pork and a festival favorite - coconut ice.
Organizers estimate that each year between 6,000 and 7,000 attend the festival, which raises money to support the association’s scholarship fund. This year, McCulley-Breustedt said they will be giving out four $250 scholarships, which will be awarded at the Wharf at 2 p.m.
Among the centerpieces of the festival and a source of pride for the Puerto Rican community is the Puerto Rican monument, which was bequeathed to the association by its builder, Bristol artist Joe Sagolla, in 2008.
The monument is of a circular sentry box called a “garita” and serves as symbol to Puerto Ricans abroad that their native land will always welcome them home. The monument is dedicated to the Puerto Rican people who have made Bristol their home.
The festival is organized by the Puerto Rican Cultural Association of Bucks County whose mission and purpose is to provide artistic and cultural events which foster the education of others on the values of people of Hispanic descent by providing a variety of activities during the year and concluding with the Puerto Rican Day Festival.
“It is our vision and intent to provide events that celebrate the Puerto Rican culture in areas of history, literature, music and the arts,” said Berrocal. “It is further our intention to provide scholarships to student within the community and to establish a cultural center where these events can be hosted.”
The Puerto Rican Cultural Association meets on the second Thursday of every month. Members’ Meetings are held at the Bristol Borough Hall, 2nd floor, 250 Pond Street, Bristol from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., and are open to the general public.