The Onset Cape Verdean Festival

About Us

The Onset Cape Verdean Festival Association was formed in June, 2003. A group of Cape Verdeans and Onset residents combined their efforts to organize a one day "festival" that would capture the essence of the history, culture, music, traditions and food brought to this area by the immigrants of the Cape Verde Islands in the late 19th century. Everything about the Cape Verdean experience is unique, vibrant and motivational and the goal of this organizing group was to create a venue that would share that experience with the local community, the large population of vacationers and summer residents in Onset, and most importantly, with the Cape Verdean youth before they completely lose their connection to this rich history and culture.

Since we began, "word of mouth" has spread throughout the U.S. and now there are thousands that are coming to the Festival from all over the country. The festival has begun to take on an ambience of a very large "family reunion". Families seem to be coordinating their vacations to return to this area where they grew up and plan large family gatherings before and after the festival. So many people share their joy and gratitude with us for bringing them back together and thank us for the opportunity to connect with their "roots". They are thrilled that their children are hearing and seeing the beautiful music and dances that are traditional to the Islands.

Many Cape Verdeans fled the Cape Verde Islands in the 19th century due to more than 100 years of severe drought. The men were born fisherman and were eagerly sought to work on the Whaling Ships that sailed from New Bedford, MA. Late in the 19th century, large numbers of immigrants came to the New England area to work in the fishing industry and the numerous factories. Soon the immigrants found work in the cranberry fields in the south coast communities of Massachusetts….with numerous immigrants settling in Wareham and surrounding areas. Cape Verdeans were known as hardworking, intelligent, self-motivated workers. There is a saying that the "Cranberry Industry was built on the backs of Cape Verdeans."

The festival takes place on the 2nd Saturday of August when the weather is warm. It is located in the beautiful seaside village of Onset, MA….a village of Wareham…on the bluffs overlooking Onset Bay. The program starts at 12:00 noon and goes continuously until 6:00 p.m. The music of Cape Verde has a beat similar to the familiar Salsa in the US. Cape Verdeans love to dance and once the music begins, they will not stop dancing until the music ends….no matter how old the person may be. Performers that have emigrated from Cape Verde and now live in the US are asked to play their instruments and sing. Many have only been in this country a short time and the music they bring is original to the Cape Verde Islands. Cape Verdeans have their favorite foods and everyone who attends the festival seems to thoroughly enjoy these dishes. Many vendors set up their booths for the day and sell Cape Verdean T-shirts, jewelry, art and items of interest.

The Onset Cape Verdean Festival is FREE and we hand everyone attending a FREE Program. The Program goes into detail about the history, music, language and even gives several recipes for favorite dishes. There is a picture of each Cape Verde Island with a short description of the Island. OCVFA feels that the Festival and Program assists with our Mission "to promote information and culture about Capeverdeans and to celebrate the origin, history and culture of the immigrants from Cabo Verde especially in the communities with large numbers of residents with Cape Verdean heritage."

The village of Onset is small so a number of parking area have been established before you enter the festival site. There is a $10 parking fee but a FREE shuttle is provided for everyone to the festival area. The parking areas are staffed by a local non-profit Onset organization. Prroceeds goes toward OCVFA’s expenses for Police and Wareham Municipal Maintenance related to these parking areas.

The fundraising goal each year is to raise enough money to cover all the expenses related to this one day festival. After all expenses have been paid and a start-up fund established for the following year, excess funds are donated to Scholarships and community and youth activities. Following the festival, all members of the Association are encouraged to suggest non-profit groups in the area that may be in need of support. Members are reminded of our Mission Statement and Purpose in the Articles of Incorporation to help focus their suggestions. In our Articles of Incorporation under the section II A. – "The specific purpose of this corporation is to provide charitable and related technical assistance to meet the educational, health, and related human needs of persons of Cape Verdean Ancestry within the United States."

Election of Officers is every two years with the current Executive Board serving from 2012-2014. All members are encouraged to become involved and serve as a Chairmen or on a committee. Chairmen are appointed by the Executive Board. On the day of the festival, there are over 70 volunteers that work from early in the morning until several hours after the festival ends. In October of each year, we recognize our Volunteers at a Gratitude Dinner (a "home cooked" meal by a member of OCVFA) and Membership Meeting.

The Onset Cape Verdean Festival is totally supported through donations and the Association makes every effort to convey our appreciation of their support. OCVFA has established a Donor Appreciation Reception that is held on the Sunday before the festival takes place. Certificates of Recognition are presented to each of the donors and the Major Sponsors are given special recognition. At this event, a Cape Verdean Band plays music and light appetizers are served. An article expressing our appreciation and recognizing these supporters is placed in the local newspapers. Large banners recognizing the Major Sponsors are placed on the stage at the Festival and pages recognizing the supporters are placed in the Program.

Download These PDF's:

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Business Partners Donation Sheet
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Program Advertisement Sheet
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Platinum Sponsorship
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Restaurant Donation
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Upcoming Events

Festival Date:
August 13th, Saturday 2016
12PM - 6PM
Sunday is the Rain date, August 14th.
Onset MA
12PM - 6 PM
Contact Info:
Michael Roderick - Vendor Chairperson
Vice President of Memberships-Lynn Spinola
Deneen Rose - President

Board Members

Executive Board Members:
Deneen Rose - President
Michael Roderick - President Elect/Vendor Chairperson
John Donahue - Treasurer
Lynn Spinola - Vice President of Membership
Paul Gonsalves - Recording Secretary
Diane Lopes - Flaherty-Corresponding secretary/Bylaw Chairperson
Lynn Spinola - Scholarship Chair
Kathy Canute - Entertainment Chairperson
Arthur Joia-Fundraising Chairperson