Sophia Stocks, the big queen at the Princeton Holy Ghost and St. Anthony Portuguese Festa, has been involved with the event since she was a little girl.
“I was a sideman for two years before this and 10 years ago this year I was the little queen,” said Stocks, 17, of Princeton.
Stocks said her father has been on the Princeton Holy Ghost and St. Anthony Portuguese Festa Committee since before she was born, and that the Festa is a way for her to hang out with her family.
“One of my sidemaids is my cousin,” Stocks said. “… We grew up together so it’s just really special being with her and enjoying all of this.”
Stocks is the daughter of Kimberly and Steven Stocks and is a recent Colusa High School graduate. She said she will be attending Butte College in the fall.
Her sidemaids this year were Kate Amaro and Madison Fonseca.
She said she enjoys being the big queen and hopes that it inspires other young girls to strive to be the big queen.
“I really enjoy being queen because I love the little girls looking up at me and going ‘I want to do that’ because I remember being that age and wanting to (be big queen) and I’m hoping to inspire them to stay in this,” Stocks said.
The Festa began with a parade at the Portuguese Hall that processed to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church where mass took place. Afterward, the newly crowned queens paraded back to the hall – where lunch was served.
The event also included dancing and music from the David Pasco Band, along with an auction of donated goods between lunch and dinner.
The Portuguese Festa has been taking place in Princeton for more than 100 years, said Chris Souza, Princeton Holy Ghost and St. Anthony Portuguese Festa Committee president.
Souza said many of the Portuguese people are Catholic and the Festa is a tradition which continues to celebrate the Holy Ghost.
He said hundreds of years ago, there was a grave famine in Portugal.
The Portuguese people believe that Queen Isabella prayed for the starving people and as a result, during a storm, ships came into the harbor filled with food, Souza said.
“The poor were very hungry so Queen Isabella … prayed and prayed to the Holy Spirit to show some mercy and end the famine in Portugal,” Souza said.
Queen Isabella had promised that if help was sent, she would crown a poor girl queen for a day, which brought rise to the tradition of crowning a girl queen to reign over the Festa.
He said there were many people who weren’t Portuguese who attended and he shared the story Queen Isabella with attendees.
“We are continuing on the tradition and I enjoy carrying on this tradition,” Stocks said.
Chelsea Permann, 8, of Willows was crowned as this year’s little queen.
Permann said she enjoyed being able to get dressed up and have her hair done for the Festa.
Inside the Portuguese Hall, before the music even began, Permann spun around with other young children in her flowing white dress.
Permann is the daughter of Corey and Steven Permann and her sidemaids were Analise Weststeyn and Olivia Vasquez.
Souza said people from all over and from all walks of life are drawn to the Princeton Festa and he estimates that around 900 people attended just for lunch this year.
“It’s great to sit with your friends and have a great meal,” Souza said.
Each year, they serve sopas, braised beef and potato salad, which is part of the Festa’s traditional meal – each Portuguese Festa has its own traditions.
“We just want to keep it going,” Souza said. “We try to keep the tradition alive.”