This article is written by Bearta Al-Chacar, Lebanese Festival Director. For more information, check out Triangle Lebanese Association.
The Lebanese festival is like “Christmas or Eid” to the Lebanese in North Carolina. It’s not only a way to share our culture but to celebrate our love to an imperfectly beautiful country we had to leave behind but that remains in our heart.
This year marks the 17th year of Lebanese festivals for our small Lebanese community. Few committed Lebanese organized the first Lebanese festival by rolling-up their sleeves, started making food for an unknown number of attendees and training to perform dabke on stage.
The hard work and anticipation for such a fun festival full of performances and great food are exciting and contagious as we celebrate the good things we cherish about being Lebanese and our traditions.
The adult dance group that performed 17 years ago, are now the hard working hands that work non-stop at each festival. They make and serve Lebanese food with pride and joy, while listening to the songs their children are performing on stage.
The children that performed on stage 17 years ago in the children’s dance as the adult groups (about 30 performers – Adults and Young Adults group). They dedicate their Sundays to dabke practice from January until April. Some drive from college and other towns to reconnect with their childhood friends and practice dabke.
Today the two children groups (44 altogether ages 5-12), some their first year in dabke are looking forward to performing and receiving a trophy. Aside from learning few dabke steps, our hope is that they harbor friendships to last a lifetime.
Most mother help in sewing, with ideas, and snacks for the children. Some mothers come night after night, after their full-time jobs, to make huge quantities of food for the festival. The food is prepared with care and pride and always preserves the authenticity of Lebanese cuisine.
Energetic stage performances includes dabke, belly dance, singing, Raleigh’s Got Talent show and Miss Tabouli 2015, authentic Lebanese cuisine, fortune teller, Lebanese beer, cultural and bazaar booth keep the crowd coming each year. The festival used to be held at the fairgrounds but it is now held at City Plaza downtown Raleigh, a City that welcomed our Lebanese culture with open arms. We are forever indebted to a town nationally recognized for its diversity for allowing us and other ethnic groups to share our culture with the community we live in. Each year we learn something new and try to tweak the festival to making it better and more vibrant.