Chamarita, bishca and sweetbread: Portuguese Day in the Park begins 140th anniversary celebration

  • Evelyn Pacheco’s homemade bread is removed from the stone oven, or “forno,” at Gilbert Carvalho Park.

    Courtesy photo

Expect all your favorites plus more as the Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce presents its 24th annual Dennis G. Aguiar Portuguese Day in the Park from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday at Gilbert Carvalho Park in Hilo.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is an opportunity to share and experience Portuguese culture on the 140th year since the arrival of the first Portuguese immigrant families to Hawaii.


Portuguese Day in the Park was started in 1995 by the HIPCC’s first president, Councilman Jimmy Souza, and precedes the Lenten season traditions practiced by many of Hawaii’s Portuguese Catholics.

The baton was passed to Aguiar, who added more Portuguese music, including performances by the Hawaii County Band which features Portuguese composers such as John Phillip Sousa.

Also added to the celebration were gifts from Portugal for sale, dancing of the chamarita, playing the Portuguese card game bishca, sharing of Portuguese ancestry through ship logs that brought the original Portuguese to Hawaii and the popular Portuguese bean soup contest.

Aguiar died in 2004, but before his passing, the HIPCC named the day in his honor.

Portuguese food favorites for sale will include Portuguese hot dogs and sausage, Papa’s sweetbread, pickled onions and malasadas.

The chamber’s traditional gift to the community will be a sampling of freshly made, prize-winning Portuguese bean soup made by Linus Tavares, and fresh from the stone oven, or “forno,” Evelyn Pacheco’s homemade bread.

Two new events were organized for this year’s event under the energetic, new and younger chamber leadership, led by president Will Lee.

• Businesses are invited to enter teams in the inaugural kickball tournament. Companies can hang their banners on the ballpark fence, promote their businesses and help raise funds for the HIPCC Cultural and Educational Center to be built in Hilo in 2019. Call Lee at 987-6929 to sign up.

• In observance of Portuguese culture brought to Hawaii since 1878, “Everything Portuguese” will take place in the Carvalho Park gym. People are invited to set up a table in the gym and share things they have at home from the late 1800s to today from the Azores, Madeira and mainland Portugal, or share traditions that have been passed on to them such as Portuguese language, music, games, stories or other things with Portuguese origins. To participate, contact Marlene Hapai, HIPCC Cultural and Educational Center president, at 966-9894.

Any company or individual wanting to offer assistance or add to this cultural experience also can contact Donna Johnson, chamber and center secretary, at 895-1907.




All proceeds generated from the Dennis G. Aguiar Portuguese Day in the Park will go toward building the Portuguese Cultural and Educational Center. For those not able to attend, donations can be made by visiting