WHEELING - The 80th Lebanese Festival, or Mahrajan, will be held rain or shine from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at Oglebay Park's Site 1, Levenson Shelter, Wheeling.
The annual celebration includes live music, dance, Lebanese food, games, inflatables and more. Admission is free.
Thanks to the devoted volunteers at Our Lady of Lebanon Church of Wheeling, one doesn't have to be Lebanese to know the English translation of "Mahrajan" is "festival." For decades, the Mahrajan has been held in Wheeling, welcoming thousands of people of every ethnicity across the country to share in the rich culture of the Lebanese heritage in almost heaven, West Virginia.
A sword dancer from the Alhambra Dance Troupe entertains the crowd at the annual Mahrajan in Oglebay Park.
The church's Mahrajan is built around a community of devoted believers - in more than one way. The Maronite Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mother each August, and many congregations celebrate their heritage around the Marian Feast.
Wheeling's Mahrajan began in 1933 to raise funds to rebuild the 10-year-old church which burned to the ground in 1932. Today, perhaps symbolic of the miraculous preservation of the Marian icon that survived the 1932 fire, and the commitment of more than four generations of Lebanese American parishioners, Our Lady of Lebanon Church stands tall above Eoff Street in Wheeling and remains the state's only Maronite Catholic Church.
So whether one is looking for a weekend getaway or a day of delicious food and entertainment, gather friends and family and join parishioners in beautiful Oglebay Park for the annual Mahrajan in Wheeling.
A la carte food and beverages (while supplies last) include: traditional Lebanese food including, but not limited to: kibbee, lamb shish kabob (laham mishwee), stuffed grape leaves, shawarma (gyros), falafel, tabbouli and hummus, baklava and a large variety of Lebanese pastries.
Entertainment includes: live Middle Eastern music and dancers. One-hour sets of traditional Dabke music will alternate with half hour sets of Middle Eastern dance shows. There will also be games and activities for children of all ages. Vendors will be on hand offering souvenirs and handcrafted items.
Tickets for food and beverages can be purchased at the festival. Reservations for tables and chairs can be made by calling 304-233-1688. Free, non-reserved seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis in the dining area. All proceeds benefit Our Lady of Lebanon Church, Wheeling.
A video capturing the festivities and additional information about the Mahrajan is available on www.ololwv.com. For more details, call Monsignor Bakhos Chidiac at 304-233-1688.