First year for Brazil Fest

New event celebrates Brazilian culture at Ag Hall.


Blue skies and a warm sun welcomed the Island’s first Brazil Fest at the Agricultural Hall Sunday. Triangular rainbow pennant banners hung from the hall’s rafters and cascaded down between trees in one of the society’s fields. People snacked on coxinhas, fried dough and meat, Brazilian corn cake, or bolo de pamonha, and hot dogs topped with sauce, corn, and potatoes.

The event, organized by the Building Bridges Coalition, was held from 10 am to 4 pm and drew inspiration from Festa Junina, a rural Brazilian festival to celebrate the end of harvest season. This is the first initiative of the coalition, a group of Island entities and individuals that hope to foster connection between different Island groups or populations.

“This is a long time coming,” said Sara Barnes, executive director of M.V. Mediation, which is a founding sponsor of the coalition.

The hope is to help the traditional Islander know and understand the Island’s large Brazilian community, Barnes said.

The coalition and mediation group estimate that Brazilians make up 30 percent of year-round Islanders.

The idea for this event came from Pricila Vilaça, who moved to the Island in 2018 from Aldeia, Cuparaque, and joined the mediation group’s board of directors in 2022. Vilaça told Barnes that she had a dream to host a Brazilian festival on the Island.

“I’ve already cried so many times today,” Vilaça said. “There’s not only Brazilians here today. This was the idea, to have other people here with us.”

She hopes the festival will become an annual event.

Amid farm animals, can toss and ring toss, face painting, and food from Sweet Bites, Aquila, Chef Deon’s Kitchen, and Mad Martha’s, Island nonprofits set up tables to educate the crowd about their services.

The goal was to meet those afraid to ask about the Island’s resources “where they are,” Vilaça said. Tables for Island Grown Initiative to Martha’s Vineyard Library Association to NAACP of Martha’s Vineyard and Vineyard Power were placed in a semicircle for passersby to inquire about and observe at their leisure.

The coalition also organized music groups to perform, including a band that plays Brazilian ’80s rock and roll and the Lucas Ostinato Trio, known for its Brazilian jazz music.

For São Paulo native Paula Reidbord, housing coordinator for M.V. Mediation, the event was about “connecting people with a different culture … and putting a smile on people’s faces,” she said, as she tied a bandana around her and Kiki Homer’s ankles for the three-legged race. Homer is the mediation group’s communication and outreach coordinator.

Reidbord also helped run the quadrilha, a traditional Brazilian dance with similar steps to square dancing. 

The scene very much resembled a festival in Brazil, Vilaça said, including the games, type of food, dancing, and rural location.

“There’s an increasing Brazilian and Portuguese-speaking population. Folks should come together and get to know one another’s culture, food, and music,” Homer said. “It’s just good old-fashioned fun.”

Barnes estimates about 500 people attended the free event.


  1. First of many I hope! It appears everyone had a wonderful time. Such an extraordinary day😊

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