NORMAN — Amid music, dancing, arts, crafts, a bake sale, educational tips and children’s games, Fr. Fadi Matni of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic church did his best to greet as many festival guests as he could. He will do so again Sunday as Lebanese heritage, food and hospitality are extended to guests.
The third annual Lebanese Heritage and Food Festival will continue 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Our Lady of Lebanon, 500 Alameda St., where traditional Lebanese food abounds.
“The food is fabulous. This is the first time ever I’ve eaten Lebanese food,” festivalgoer M.J. Brienan said. “I asked them in the kitchen what they suggested and they said the Beirut platter.
Everything is wonderful.”
Nancy Wance has attended the festival in years past. She said she noticed how the church and festival have grown over the years.
“This (festival) has grown into quite a big deal,” Wance said. “I came to the church when it was first established. The presence in Norman has grown tremendously and they (the congregation) have established a connection with many Lebanese people in the whole OKC metro area. It’s a culture that people don’t know much about and it’s nice to have that connection to understand Lebanese culture. All we know about the Middle East is what we hear in the news.”
People from various Christian denominations and those of other religions attend the annual festival. Members of the community at large and students from the University of Oklahoma attended the festival yesterday. Wassim Tabet, a member of the OU Lebanese Student Association, was there with members of his dance troupe. For some, this was the first year to attend and dance at the festival. For others, like Tabet, it wasn’t. The troupe has performed dabkeh — traditional Lebanese dances — at the last couple of festivals. Tabet said he enjoyed the blending of cultures.