Immigrants from Portugal, especially the Azore Islands,
settled after the California gold rush of 1849
in the area now known as Hawkinsville.
It was the only Portugese dominated mining settlement
that persisted throughout the latter part of the 19th century.
The need for a Catholic church soon arose and it was either
Father Patrick Farrelly or Father Fernandes that
was responsible for establishing the church and offering the first mass.
The present building has been erected in the spring of 1858 by
a Henry Egbert; it was first used as a saloon and then a meat market.
Eventually it was remodeled and consecrated as the
Church of the Immaculate Conception and it's first Mass
was celebrated in 1878. Today the church is used only
during the Holy Ghost Festival in June of each year
for the Festival Mass of Thanksgiving.
Around the turn of the 20th century this crown and it's
scepter was brought over from Portugal so the
tradition of the Holy Ghost Festival could continue.
The first Festival Queen was crowned in 1900 and that
same crown and scepter is used today.
The Festival commemorates a miracle in the 14th century
which ended a famine; thus the significance of the
bread distributed after Mass.
You can view more photos taken at this years Festival here: