It’s crunch time for the 250 families volunteering for the thirty-fifth annual Lebanese Food Festival. Each year, the popular event pulls in more than thirty thousand guests.
Volunteers begin making their Lebanese delicacies in mid-February and continue the process through the festival – this year, May 17 to 19. Sell-out items include cheese, spinach and cheese, and spinach combo pies. More than thirty-six thousand are made for the three-day event.
“The Lebanese Food Festival is a festival of food, family and tradition in the Richmond community,” says Sandra Joseph Brown, a lifelong parishioner of St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church.
People who come to the festival will get the chance to see how a community works together through volunteering to create all the “delicious foods of the Lebanese culture,” Brown adds. “They will also get an understanding of how proud we all are to be so much a part of the Richmond community. People who visit the festival are considered family and are treated just like they would be if they were in our home.”
Brown realizes the crowds may be overwhelming for some people who may have limited time to eat. That’s why she always points them to the festival’s to-go menu and dining room dinners that guests can order and eat in the dining room.
“The to-go menu was introduced several years ago because of all the requests from the area’s business patrons,” Brown says. “Calling in your order helps you by not standing in the food booth lines. You can go to the dining room takeout window and pay for your order (Note: the festival only takes cash, ATM’s are available on site) and then go outside and enjoy the festival.”
Food can be ordered from Lebanese Food Festival. Select the dinner or a la carte items you want and then call 804-346-1161 to place your order. “We will have the order ready for you to pick up,” Brown says.
Unfortunately, not every item at the festival can be ordered on the to-go menu. One of the most popular – zalibia, a handmade Lebanese donut that you can only buy once a year – is sold outside only.
“What you can do is divide and concur,” says Brown. “Call in your order from the a la carte menu or order your dinner meals and then get your other items that are not prepared in the kitchen.”
Dining room meal hours are Friday May 17 and Saturday May 18, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday May 19, Noon- 8 p.m. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Parking is available onsite. Offsite parking is available at the Markel Building. A free shuttle will be providedto and from the festival.
The festival is always a labor of love for the parish, Brown adds. “Our guests are very much a part of why we do this. We look forward to seeing you at this year’s event.”