Southfield hosts Chaldean Festival this weekend

bilde1.jpgUrsula Watson / The Detroit News
Fun lovers of any age in search of a rich cultural experience might enjoy traditional Chaldean food, fun and entertainment at the Chaldean Festival.

The three-day festival, sponsored by the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and the City of Southfield, begins Friday and includes non-traditional activities and fare as well. There also will be some cool additions to this year’s event, says Lisa Kalou, director of operations and events for the chamber of commerce. “We normally had inflatables for the kids to enjoy but we decided to offer carnival rides,” she says. “There will be carousels, a Ferris wheel and a crowd favorite called the Freak Out.”

The pendulum-like ride swings back and forth, reaching scream-inducing heights. Less heart-pounding fun includes carnival games, such as balloon darts and the ring toss.

Kalou says there will also be live entertainment including traditional Chaldean music. “There will be a dance area, so we hope people will get out there and do some traditional dances,” she says.

But not all of the music and moves will be traditional. Festival veterans Slight Return will perform rock jams and back local pop singer/pianist Steve Acho.

“I grew up listening to Robin Trower, Santana and Hendrix,” says Slight Return guitarist Mark Kassa. “I am very proud of my (Chaldean) heritage but I never played any of the ethnic music.”

Kassa, who owns five businesses, studied music formally at Wayne State University and the Musicians Institute in Hollywood and is a member of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. When asked what he hopes attendees of non-Chaldean heritage will take away from the festival, Kassa said a sense of commonality.

“We are normal hardworking Americans who are very proud of being American,” says Kassa. “People will see we are just another great part of the melting pot of the United States.”