Bucks County celebrates 50th annual Puerto Rican Day Festival with food, music, dancing

Bomba and salsa resonated through Mill Street on Saturday for Bucks County’s 50th annual Puerto Rican Day Festival.

Revelers from the Philadelphia region and New Jersey converged to celebrate Boricua pride  through food, music, and dancing.

“The significance is to educate the people and preserve the values and all the gifts that we receive from our ancestors, like faith, hospitality, sharing,” said Maria Berrocal, Vice President of the Puerto Rican Cultural Association of Bucks County, the group that organizes the event every year.

Crowds line up outside food vendors selling empanadas, chicharrón, bacalaitos, fried plantains, grilled chicken skewers, and more. (Emily Rizzo/WHYY)

Nereida McCulley-Breustedt, president of the Puerto Rican Cultural Association of Bucks County, said the festival is about instilling pride in the younger generations.

“What brings us here is unity, peace, being with each other, being with each other…dancing,” McCulley-Breustedt said. “Being Puerto Rican you have to know how to dance.”

Crowds lined up for empanadas, chicharrón, bacalaitos, fried plantains, grilled chicken skewers, and more. People were sporting t-shirts, dresses and hats adorned with the island’s flag and signature colors of red, blue and white.

Bristol Township resident Paul Rivera waved a large Puerto Rican flag above his head.

“Cause I’m Puerto Rican!” he shouted.

Philadelphia-resident Madeline Burgos with husband Giovanni and mother Maria Camacho. The family set up their chairs in the morning to ensure good views of the musicians. (Emily Rizzo/WHYY)

Philadelphia-resident Madeline Burgos, who grew up in Bristol, said she and her husband, Giovanni, attend the festival every year

“I just love that it’s a peaceful, friendly event, you see everybody from our heritage here,” she said. “You see other people, too, that appreciate our culture and want to learn about where we came from.”

Manuel Rosario from Allentown, Pennsylvania, was selling from his family’s food stall. Chefs Javier Fuentes and Hector Monclova were behind him roasting a pig and working the busy fryers.

“We try to push our culture for the young ones, show them how we used to do it back in the days… cooking outside,” Rosario said.

Javier Fuentes and Hector Monclova were roasting a pig and working the busy fryers. (Emily Rizzo/WHYY)

Trio Renacer, the Cintron Salsa Band, and Swing de Guille played traditional Latin music. Dancers entertained the crowd in the wharf’s center, while onlookers moved their hips in sync.

The Bucks County Genealogical Society had a booth for people wanting to trace their indigenous Boricuan roots.

Festival organizers awarded two scholarships to Bucks County high school seniors.

“We hope that they will continue teaching others about [our] legacy,” McCulley-Breustedt said.

  • July 31, 2023
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