By Jennie Miller
C & G Staff Writer
SOUTHFIELD â€” Embracing culture and tradition, and thriving with family fun, the local Chaldean community is inviting the masses to once again share in its celebration during the annual Chaldean Festival.
The event is set for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 9-10, from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the front lawn of the Southfield Municipal Complex.
â€œWe have such a large community and a very rich culture,â€ said Lisa Kalou, director of operations and events for the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce, based in Farmington Hills. She added that according to a recent household survey conducted by United Way and Walsh College, there are 120,000 Chaldeans in the metropolitan Detroit area.
â€œWith this event, we wanted to put ourselves out there and show everyone our culture,â€ Kalou said of the third annual event.
The chamber, which has 1,200 members and represents the greater Chaldean business community in southeastern Michigan, organizes the event in partnership with the city of Southfield.
â€œIt is a wonderful couple of days,â€ said Martin Manna, executive director of the chamber. â€œWeâ€™re very happy with the partnership with the city of Southfield. Being the center of it all, Southfield is a good place for us, because itâ€™s also the home of the Chaldean Catholic (diocesan center) and the Chaldean Senior Home. We have a large Chaldean population, and Southfield is very central.â€
The celebration is not just for the Chaldean crowd; all are welcome to attend, with a major purpose being to expose the masses to Chaldean culture, such as music, dances and food. There will be an estimated 100 food and merchant booths set up on the front lawn of the Civic Center.
â€œItâ€™s great to see people attend this event, try our food, hear our music,â€ Manna said. â€œI think there is often a misconception about our community, and this is a wonderful opportunity (to dispel that misconception). Once we experience peopleâ€™s cultures, we can gain a better understanding.â€
The event is filled with fun for all ages, with childrenâ€™s activities such as a dunk tank, a rock climbing wall and inflatables. There is also a raffle with a $10,000 grand prize.
â€œItâ€™s a very fun, festive event,â€ Manna said, adding that an estimated 25,000 people came out to last yearâ€™s shindig. â€œWe think thatâ€™s just going to continue to increase in our third year. Itâ€™s just getting bigger and bigger.â€
The city is thrilled to host this event for the third time.
â€œWeâ€™ve always had a great relationship with the organization,â€ said Bill Waterhouse, director of the Southfield Parks and Recreation Department. â€œItâ€™s a good time to come out and celebrate a little family fun. Whether or not someone is from the city of Southfield or the metro Detroit area, and whether or not theyâ€™re a part of the Chaldean community or just the general population, the Chaldean Festival has always celebrated families in a very special way. (Itâ€™s a chance) to come and learn a little bit about someone elseâ€™s culture.â€
Admission is free, but some activities, as well as food and merchandise, carry a nominal cost. Proceeds from the event benefit the nonprofit Chaldean Chamber Foundation charity.
For more information, visit www.chaldeanchamber.com.