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Hawkinsville, Calif., Celebrates Portuguese Festival

Hawkinsville, Calif., is just north of Yreka, but its history includes cultural customs born in Portugal’s Azores Islands in the 14th century.

Siskiyou County’s first Azorean Portuguese arrived in the 1850’s to mine for gold. At the turn of the century, they arranged to have a silver crown and scepter sent from Portugal for continuing their traditional Festival of the Holy Spirit.


With the arrival of the crown and scepter, Hawkinsville residents began re-enacting the sacred tradition of commemorating the time when Queen Isabel requested that the people of Lisbon attend mass and pray for relief from a severe famine in the 14th century. When three ships amazingly appeared in the harbor loaded with grain, the queen ordered a special mass.

Each year, special attendants, a band and an honor guard escort a selected girl to the church, where the Mass of Thanksgiving is followed by the girl’s crowning as Queen of the Festival.  The silver crown remains on display in the church hall during the dinner and celebration.

The first Siskiyou queen was crowned in 1900.  The same crown and scepter have been used each June since then.  Collected donations are used to maintain Hawkinsville’s Immaculate Conception Church and Portuguese Hall.

Sources:  "Hawkinsville's Holy Ghost Festival Commemorates Old Customs." Siskiyou Daily News 25 May 2012. Web. 19 June 2016. .

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.