By: Beatrice Silva
2 min read November 2020 — Vibrant, neon-colored feathered costumes, the echo of drum beats and sizzling aromas will permeate the streets of Downtown Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 12-13. The Brazilian Festival, which usually takes place in Pompano Beach, seems to have possibly found a permanent new home.
For the past eight years, Pompano Beach has held the Brazilian Festival. Widely known for its large Brazilian community and strategic location, the city has been a perfect fit. However, due to rising cases of COVID-19, public officials prefered to postpone the event. Luciano Sameli, founder of the festival, wasn’t pleased with that option. Instead, he decided to take his festival to a neighboring city. “The Brazilian community is hurting more than you can possibly imagine,” Sameli told the Sun Sentinel. “You have to understand, a lot of people (are) lonely here, depressed. They don’t have family here. So we need to provide some kind of hope for brighter days ahead.
In an effort to bring more tourism to the area, Fort Lauderdale’s public officials were more than happy to step up and host this year’s festival. In the last few months, Fort Lauderdale has hosted a handful of public events, including the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Exotics on Las Olas and the Las Olas Art Fair, attracting thousands of visitors to the region.
While COVID-19 cases seem to be stagnant in Broward County, the threat of the virus remains real. Safety protocols like mandatory masks, temperature checks and reduced capacity will be enforced to help keep visitors safe. Tickets must also be purchased online prior to the event and vendors will have to sign an agreement to follow all COVID precautions and regulations.
Since the Brazilian Festival debuted in 2012, the event has provided over 3,200 temporary jobs, sought services from around 257 local businesses and helped bring exposure to over 2,100 local exhibitors, according to the organizers. Typically events like the Brazilian Festival draw around 15,000-20,000 people and bring an estimated economic impact of approximately $32 million. However, this year only 1,500 people will be allowed into the event per day.
“We can maybe bring a new concept or set of standards to do these kinds of events during a pandemic. We might not be able to have 15,000 people or 20,000 people anymore, but we might be able to have 1,500 people,” said Sameli.
In addition to a vibrant party atmosphere, the event will include experiences the whole family can enjoy. Performances from Onze:20, Kell Smith and Smash Mouth were announced earlier this year but will instead, they’ll be part of the 2021 lineup. Nevertheless, local bands such as Boss Fusion Duo, Cara Pierotto and Cravo e Canela are expected to play. Guests will also find a kids’ zone, Capoeira performances and a plethora of multicultural food vendors.
Even though Sameli is happy to have found a location to host this year’s event, he isn’t sure where the 2021 event will take place. Yet, despite the hurdles he faced this year, there is one thing that is certain: the show must go on.
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