Chaldean Festival celebrates culture with family fun

By Jennie Miller
C & G Staff Writer
SOUTHFIELD — Southfield’s richly diverse population will be celebrated, and one culture in particular lauded, during the seventh annual Chaldean Festival June 8-10 on the front lawn of City Hall.

Theresa Abbo, 7, of Farmington Hills and Gisella Dalou, 4, of Sterling Heights ride the Scrambler at a past Chaldean Festival.
File photo by Patricia O’Blenes
Romeo Ibrahim, 4, of Southfield plays with a bubble-maker.

The widely popular event draws from not only the 120,000 Chaldeans currently calling metro Detroit home, but also residents of the surrounding communities who wish to celebrate and learn about the Chaldean culture.

“Southfield is a pretty diverse community, so it’s an opportunity for the Chaldean community to showcase and share with other residents traditions and ethnic festivities,” said Sharon Hannawa, program manager for the Chaldean Community Foundation, the charitable arm of the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce, headquartered in Southfield, which hosts the annual event. “I think we take a lot of pride in our community, so this is an excellent opportunity to showcase that and introduce it to the rest of the world.”

The festival will include a full carnival with rides, games and children’s activities, as well as food and merchant booths. It runs 5-10 p.m. June 8, noon-10 p.m. June 9, and noon-10 p.m. June 10.

“What’s most cherished (in our culture) is family, and this is definitely an opportunity for families to come together,” Hannawa said. “There’s also a love of music — Chaldeans love music and … traditional dances like line dancing. People can watch and observe, and then those that are brave enough can join the line as well.”

Chaldeans are a significant part of metro Detroit, and many are business owners in local communities.

“Chaldeans have made a lot of investments here in terms of the impact they make on the local economy,” said Eric Younan, director of strategic initiatives for the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce. “We are heavily invested in the southeast Michigan community. … We are committed to the communities in which we live and work, and we contribute to the local economy. We think it’s important for people to understand who the Chaldeans are (despite many misconceptions). One of the things that separates us from other Middle East ethnicities is that we’re Iraqi Christians. Even though there’s such (large) numbers here, not a lot of people understand that. The Chaldean and the Arab communities — we’re two distinctly different communities with a different dialect and ancestry. We’d like to gain appreciation and awareness.”

The Southfield municipal complex is located at 26000 Evergreen Road. Evergreen will be shut down for the event, from Civic Center Drive to 11 Mile/I-696.

For more information about the festival, or for details about how to get involved as a volunteer or as a sponsor, call the chamber at (248) 996-8340 or email Lisa Kalou at