NORMAN — Food, music, dance and culture will come together at the second annual Lebanese Heritage and Food Festival on Saturday at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church, 500 Alameda St. Festivities will be from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“Although we are few in numbers — only 17 families — we want to share our heritage with our American friends of all denominations,” said Fr. Sami Chaaya, rector of Our Lady of Lebanon.
Special guest, Grammy and Peabody award-winning journalist Mike Boettcher will give a talk titled “We Were Reporters Once, and Young.” Boettcher knew famed, slain journalist Anthony Shadid and reported about the Civil War in the 1980s with him. Boettcher will speak at 5 p.m. inside the church.
Featured entertainers include Elite Khalil, who will perform with Fayrouz, and Eddie Adwi with Raks Band will perform modern Arabic and Middle Eastern songs.
Contemporary Lebanese music will be featured, and the Lebanese Folk Dancers from Our Lady of Lebanon in Lewisville, Texas, will return this year. OU’s Lebanese Student Association will perform traditional dances. Additionally, dancers from The Dazzlers in Norman will perform.
Our Lady of Lebanon’s music director, Jeremy Wance, said he’s looking forward to the blending of cultures at the festival and especially the music.
“The annual festival is a wonderful opportunity for Oklahomans to get to know the cultures that join together to form the fabric of our state. The strength of the Lebanese community is exhibited for everyone, and all are able to partake in the wonderful cuisine and artistic expression that are very unique,” Wance said.
Authentic Lebanese cuisine will be served hot all day, including falafel, hummus, kebbeh, kafta, tabouli, grape leaves, chicken with traditional garlic sauce, baklava and lahem bi ajin (Lebanese meat pizza). To-go orders are welcome.
Chaaya said the event will include a bake sale in the church hall. A children’s play area, arts and crafts, Lebanese souvenirs and gifts, Christian books and religious articles will all be available. Also, raffle tickets will be sold. First prize is a $1,000 gift certificate from La Baguette, second prize is a 48-inch plasma TV, and third prize is an iPad mini.
A new feature will be a tent where festival-goers can explore the culture and heritage of Lebanon by asking men and women in traditional dress questions they may have about the history, language or any other queries. Those wishing to learn a few words in Syriaco Aramaic, the language of Christ, and a few words in the Lebanese dialect of Arabic will receive a certificate of accomplishment.
Chaaya said he’s grateful to the festival’s sponsors, including Tyler Media, Levant Technologies, La Baguette, Geomechanics and Beyond, and many more.
Chaaya said proceeds from the festival will benefit the church’s youth, who hope to attend a convention. Additionally, the church recently purchased a rectory, and funds will be used to fix it up, as well as for paying down a loan.
For more information, call the church at 401-3907 or visit www.maroniteok.org.