It had all the trappings of a down-home country fair somewhere well below the Mason-Dixon line: Lynyrd Skynyrd medleys, mile-long lines for fried chicken, barbecue and draft beer, and a plethora of Confederate flags emblazoning everything from belt buckles to motorcycle vests to trucker caps.
But Sunday's party marking the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War took about 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) south of the South, in a rural Brazilian town colonized by families fleeing Reconstruction.
For many of the residents of Santa Barbara d'Oeste and neighboring Americana in Brazil's southeastern Sao Paulo state, having Confederate ancestry is a point of pride that's celebrated in high style at the annual 'Festa dos Confederados,' or 'Confederates Party' in Portuguese.
Being Southern in the US is somewhat vilified. Being proud of your Heritage can be seen as racism. People will mock the accent. It's considered funny to talk about someone being married to their sister, etc. It hasn't always been that way.
Folks that are even slightly informed realize that the greatest traditions of the United States were embedded in southern culture. It's not all NASCAR and grits.
The history of the Confederate migrants is one of the lesser-known stories of the Civil War, said Casey Clabough, author of the 2012 historical novel 'Confederados.' It's not even known for sure how many people made the arduous journey, Clabough said, with some historical accounts suggesting as few as 3,000, while others say there were as many as 10,000, predominantly from deep south states like Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia.
Most were lured by newspaper ads placed in the wake of the war by the government of Brazil's then-emperor, Dom Pedro II, promising land grants to those who would help colonize the South American country's vast and little-explored interior.
'They were seen as desirable, educated colonists,' said Clabough, adding the Confederados introduced the bull-tongue plow and other agricultural innovations to Brazil. 'And from the point of view of American Southerners who had just gone through this catastrophic conflict and were looking toward an uncertain reconstruction period, it certainly seemed attractive.'
But, but slavery and racism:
Those who stayed ended up assimilating into Brazilian society, and very few of the Confederados' descendants speak English today. Some are racially mixed — as is common in this majority Black and multiracial nation.
Mixed-race guests at Sunday's party seemed unruffled by the omnipresent Confederate flag.
'To me it's a positive symbol of my heritage,' said Keila Padovese Armelin, a 40-year-old mother of two who describes herself as a 'racial milkshake.' ''For us, it doesn't have a negative connotation at all.'