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Lebanese festival brings Mediterranean to Miami

Arabic music, belly dancing and Lebanese traditions will be celebrated at the 34th annual Lebanese Festival.

By Rodolfo Roman
Special to the Miami Herald
For three days, Miamians can enjoy belly dancing and get a taste of Lebanon this weekend.

Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church, 2055 Coral Way, will host the 34th annual Lebanese Festival from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 10 p.m Sunday. Admission is $5. Children under 12 years of age enter free. On Sunday, entry will be free from noon to 5 p.m.

The festival will showcase live Lebanese and Arabic music, belly dancing and folkloric dance. Popular home cooked Lebanese dishes including tabouli, hummus, falafel, grape leaves and kibby will be sold. An assortment of Lebanese gourmet sweets will include baklawa and sesame seed cookies.

Our Lady of Lebanon Church Pastor Elie Mikhael said the weekend festival serves as a major fundraiser for the church.

“This event has been a meeting point for all cultures to interact and keep on trying new flavors in Miami,” he said. “It is known by now as the Paris of the Middle East in Miami.”

The event began when Father Peter Tayah started a cafeteria line featuring Arabic goods, homemade Lebanese sweets and live entertainment for a day. Word of mouth brought the festival from the walls of the banquet hall of the church to become a major celebration.

“The parishioners used this event first as a financial venue to pay their mortgage and their bills,” Mikhael wrote in an e-mail. “Today, the festival becomes a landmark in the city of Miami.”

He expects more than 5,000 people to attend.

Entertainment will be produced by belly dancers, two troops of Lebanese Folkloric Dance Called Dabke, DJ’s and singers all three nights. The festival will be celebrated in the church’s banquet hall and outside under a tent.

Parishioners will manage the food, sweets, beverages, arts and crafts.

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