“Ahlan wa sahlan” is what we say to welcome someone in Arabic. It means that you have become part of our family and shall enjoy your time with us. This actually represents in two simple words the experience that our visitors have at the St. Elias Middle Eastern Festival. We have grown tremendously over the last couple of years, and we had great success and record attendance in 2015. We were also nominated as one of the top ethnic festivals in the Syracuse area. This prompted us to extend the festival, with great confidence, to four days this year, with quality remaining our utmost priority. A perfect example for this is the fact that we handpick more than 10,000 grape leaves from the Syracuse area every year, and roll them into stuffed grape leaves.

The Middle Eastern Cultural Festival has served a cuisine of the old world for 86 years. The flavors we bring, and our food being recognized as a heart-healthy “Mediterranean Diet” is what makes us popular. We use only fresh ingredients made with certified organic extra virgin olive oil such as the Tabbouleh salad and the popular oregano-sesame-olive oil flatbread (Man’ousheh).

Several menu items were added and adjusted recently to reflect current food preparation and presentation methods across the Middle East. They include beef tenderloin shish-kabab, garlic aioli spread to go with grilled chicken, pita bread panini sandwiches, and savory yogurt spread (Labneh). Knowing our rich culinary heritage, and our ladies’ made-from-scratch, home-cooked food, we believe that the quality we present is a great way to promote healthy eating in CNY, as we strive for more authenticity on our menu.

Wine and beer started in the Middle East. Over the last 2 years, we have had great success at our festival with “Almaza” beer which has been Lebanon’s number 1 brew since 1933. We are now introducing another pilsner called “Beirut” beer which we hope becomes a new favorite.

We also have amazing Lebanese wines that will pair well with our food from Chateau Ksara, which was founded by Jesuit monks in 1857.

Pistachio ice cream is a staple in the Middle East. This year, we are bringing you a deconstructed version that will take your palate on a ride through the Miské spice, orange blossom and rose water, reminiscent of the flavors found in the Middle-Eastern sweets that are well represented at our festival.

Live music and dance group performances from our youth will surely entertain you, and our kids zone will keep your children busy. We invite everyone to explore the “Souk” marketplace and play at our new “instant prize” booth.

Whether we are dancing or teaching a visitor the traditional Dabke dance, or even trying to make the perfect sandwich, our success comes from our team effort as our parishioners labor together in joy and harmony. We thank you for your attendance and wish to share this joy with all of our visitors for good times and another successful festival.