|American and Turkish flags waving together.|
This past Sunday John and I went downtown to check out the Orlando Turkish Festival. I had heard great things about the one last year and as soon as I saw a billboard for this year's I made note! So glad I did. What fun! As you can imagine, this is right up our alley. There is absolutely nothing better than walking around a market, surrounded by doner kebab and baklava. It's my heaven.
The event was put on by the Nile Foundation and they did quite a good job. Things ran rather smoothly, although a bit behind schedule. This no longer bothers us, as when we are at an event put on by Turks we expect to set our watches to Arab time. It's nice once you get used to it.
|Women selling hijabs and other head scarf accessories.|
I had heard of the Nile Foundation before, and was always curious about what they do. Turns out they do some pretty awesome stuff here in Orlando to promote friendship and understanding between Americans and Turks. They have three major departments: education, culture, and humanitarian works. They put on many activities throughout the year, from dialogue dinners to Turkish language classes and field trips to women's Turkish cooking classes. That's right- COOKING CLASSES! I can't wait to get my paws into that!
|Blue Star Troupe performing a dance from the Romani people.|
The festival was gathered around a large ampitheater where music and dance was performed. We got to hear some really wonderful traditional Turkish music with instruments like the oud and kanun. It was a really simple set up with two men, two instruments and a huge stage. They sounded great and I couldn't believe the way the musicians hands flew over that kanun. Wow!
The folk dance troupe is called Bluestar Dance and they shared a variety of traditional dances from different groups of people living in Turkey. It was quite different than dances from the region I had seen before. I assume because they were traditional dances, and not just my friends messing around dancing in their apartment to similar tunes. They danced beautifully and always with a smile. That's an A+ in my book as when I dance I usually, without thinking, bite my lower lip and look ridiculous.
After the dancing they did a door-prize drawing for a Turkish rug and a porcelain Turkish dish. We had our names in the bucket, but didn't win. I blame the kids they got to volunteer who just picked names off the top...dig in there kids!!! We didn't win but one old American guy that won the porcelain dish comes to mind. When asked by the emcee "how are you enjoying the festival?" he responded, "well, we had our reservations about coming, of course, but it has been an ok time." He had "reservations, of course?" They should have taken that beautiful dish away from mister racist and given it to Mrs. Hannah!
Oh well, maybe next year.
|Carving the doner kebab.|
After the shows we moved on to the many food tents. There was food from Turkish restaurants all around town serving up their best fare for the festival-goers. Us being some of them, we took it upon ourselves to peruse the options a number of times, running into our friend Seljuk at one of them, and asking about how business is going for the day. It was a great time to have a little conversation with complete strangers, something that's 10 times easier to do with Turks than it is to do with Americans. As we stopped by one of the tents the men saw that we had a camera and asked if we could snap a picture. Of course...
|The guys from Anatolia Restaurant.|
We finally settled on a doner kebab wrap and some baklava after being told repeatedly by a Turkish man we met in line that the price they were asking was way over-priced. He was right, it was over-priced. But sometimes you just need to splurge to complete your experience. And $4 for 3 little squares of baklava totally completed my experience! (And totally drained us of any remaining cash.)
|My wonderful John, doner in hand, trying to avoid heat exhaustion.|
The festival was a success and hopefully a really great chance for the community to learn more about Turkish tradition, food, and culture. I know we learned a lot! We wish we could have stayed longer, but after just 2 short hours our clothes were soaked with sweat and we were ready to head home and jump in a pool. I can't believe that Florida picked this weekend of all weekends to finally jump up into the 90s. If it had been a bit cooler we probably could have enjoyed the festival for another hour or so longer.
On the walk back to our car we found a great sign in the grass. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day, and had us laughing for about a block...
|The grass is "resting?"|
Do you have cultural festivals in your area? Have you ever been?