By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The 6th Annual Turkish Food and Art Festival took place at Myriad Gardens Great Lawn in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City on Saturday September 12. This event was a great opportunity for the community to gain an insight into the Turkish culture through entertainment and educational information.
The Raindrop Foundation invited individuals as well as entire families and their friends to this year’s Turkish Festival. The event was free and open to the public.
Sponsored by the Kirkpatrick Foundation, the festival featured Turkish folk dances such as whirling dervishes, along with arts, crafts and Turkish cuisine.
“The opening ceremony was held at 12 noon and we had many distinguished guests such as Enes Kanter, Mayor Cornett, Secretary of State Benge, Secretary of Veteran Affairs Rita Aragon, Secretary of Education Natalie Shirley, and OCU President Robert Henry,” said Ersin Demirci, Director of Community Engagement and Outreach at Raindrop Foundation.
The festival focuses on two important aspects of Turkish culture; food and art.
Participants enjoyed the aromas and tastes of Turkish cuisine isuch as Döner Kebab, Shish Kebab, Lahmajoun (Turkish Pizza), Icli Kofte (Meatballs stuffed with cracked wheat), Gozleme (Turkish Style Waffle), Manti (Turkish Dumplings), Baklava, Mezzes (Appetizers), Sarma (Stuffed Vine Leaves) and much more.
The featured Turkish art included water marbling art, known around the world as Ebru.
Ebru marbling is the art of creating colorful patterns by sprinkling and brushing color pigments on a pan of oily water and then transforming this pattern to paper. The special tools of the trade are brushes of horsehair bound to straight rose twigs, a deep tray made of unknotted pinewood, natural earth pigments, cattle gall and tragacanth.
The event also showcased calligraphy, Henna art and handmade Turkish Ceramic Arts created by talent from Kutahya, Turkey.
These gift items were for sale to the public. Shop for hand-made pottery, oriental rugs, traditional jewelry, and other handicrafts.
Children participated in activities such as face painting and enjoyed refreshments such as popcorn and cotton candy.
Live Whirling Dervish performances in the festival delighted attendees who were able to experience one of the practices of mysticism and Sufism. The event also featured Mexican, Columbian, Indian performers at the World Experiences Stage.
“As Turkish-Americans live in Oklahoma City, we have been working for more than ten years to create a culturally diverse city through various meaningful events. Events like Turkish Food and Art Festival strengthens the bonds of community in Oklahoma City,” Demirci stated.
“We were thrilled to organize a fun-filled day with great activities and many surprises in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City and hosting around five thousand participants,” he continued.
Raindrop Turkish House is a non-profit 501(c)(3), educational, charitable, social and cultural organization founded by Turkish-Americans in Houston in 2000. It now operates in six states: Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and New Mexico.
Turkish National and OKC Thunder NBA star Enes Kanter was on hand at the Turkish Festival. “We were thrilled to offer Thunder fans the opportunity to meet Enes Kanter in person, while enjoying delicious food and entertainment,” said Demirci.
Participants joined a raffle for a basketball signed by OKC Thunder players, a signed jersey of Enes Kanter (#11) and basketball. . All funds collected from the raffle will be used for college scholarships.
For more information, visit www.turkishfestivaloklahoma.com