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May a busy time of year for many Lincoln residents

By: Liz Kellar
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May hasn’t officially started and I’m already exhausted. Monday, I was comparing notes with city public information officer Jill Thompson and we both realized our next free weekend is … hmmm… June. OK, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration – but not by much. It’s officially the high season for events in Lincoln and it’s all I can do to keep up. This last weekend, of course, was a biggie. The Portuguese Holy Ghost Association Festa – or the Portuguese Picnic as some know it – started Thursday with the carnival at McBean Park and wrapped up Sunday with the parade and procession, and the soupas feast. Saturday was the Feats of Clay gala that acts as prelude to the month-long exhibit at Gladding, McBean’s factory. This Saturday is ClayFest; don’t forget Cinco de Mayo; Tour de Lincoln is May 10; Relay for Life is May 17… you really can’t complain that there’s nothing to do in Lincoln. I’m a longtime booster of Feats of Clay, which I consider Lincoln’s shining jewel. Every year, I am amazed that Lincoln is host to a nationally recognized ceramic competition housed in an fascinating historic pottery. I never grow tired of touring Gladding, McBean and usually spend my time there vainly wishing I was a talented photographer with unlimited access to every nook and cranny. This year, the exhibit did not disappoint. Juror Judith Schwartz describes herself as championing “confrontational ceramics” – pieces that are on the edge, politically and aesthetically. There are plenty of thought-provoking entries – but there is also plenty to satisfy more traditional visitors, including Porntip Sangvanich’s lovely Art Deco-inspired teapots. In some ways, Feats of Clay remains a secret to too many locals – and that’s a shame. I would urge every Lincoln resident to take the time to head over to Seventh Street and check it out. I have to admit that I have not been a faithful participant in Festa, although like many Lincolnites, I have spent time at the carnival. I have never actually watched the parade, for example. But I made up for it this year, when I followed the procession up and down the streets of Lincoln, taking photos for the paper (see page 11). In typical Lincoln fashion, the day dawned hot and bright – despite most of the previous week being unseasonably cold and windy. As the parade wore on, many of the younger participants wilted as some older teens distracted themselves – unobtrusively – by texting on their cell phones. Parents tried in vain to keep the girls in their heavy gowns cooled off with spritzes of water, but at least one small tot dissolved into sobs before the parade was through. I have always been daunted by the extremely long lines that mark the soupas feed and, therefore, had never tried the Portuguese specialty. Soupas, for the uninitiated, is a traditional “soup” served at the yearly Holy Ghost Feast. In its simple and extremely delicious Lincoln form, it is beef simmered until it is falling apart and served with its broth over thick slices of Portuguese bread, adorned with long sprigs of mint. The Portuguese Holy Ghost Association serves more than 5,000 people at its soupas feast, hence those daunting lines. Since I was covering the event for the paper, I bypassed the crowd and headed directly into the kitchen, camera in hand and mortified son in tow. After snapping a few shots of the volunteers assembling the huge metal bowls of soupas, I approached one very nice lady to ask her for a taste. I swear that’s all I asked for, but she presented me with an entire takeout container. And I don’t mean a small container; this was enough food for my extended family. Despite my son’s obvious embarrassment, I wasn’t about to say no to such a kind gesture. And that’s how I happened to be staggering home Sunday through the 90-degree heat, eight long blocks while clutching a large pan of boiling-hot beef. I am not ashamed to admit that I ate almost the entire pan by myself over the course of the next two days. Sure, I complain that my job as editor of the Lincoln News Messenger keeps me way too busy and often sucks up my weekends as well. But weekends like this one make it all worthwhile; after all, I just uncovered the pleasures of another of Lincoln’s secrets. You can be sure that I’ll be at the soupas feast next year as well. I might even wait in line like everyone else.