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Cultural Festival spices up weekend

By Tony Perez | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office | Sept. 7, 2007

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LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS — Arnold Hall's ballroom was filled with the sounds of exotic music the afternoon of Aug. 25 as Lackland AFB held the International Cultural Festival. 

The event, which was held from 1-5 p.m., featured numerous musical and dance performance groups, ranging from the Fire on the Mountain Cloggers to the Gypsy Caravan.

"I thought it was awesome," said program coordinator Zuhal Rick. "I received nothing but positive feedback about the event from the people who attended."

Programmers hope that the festival will become an annual event, and also hope that each year a new country will host the event. 

This year, the festival was hosted by Turkey. The Turkish-American Association of San Antonio was on hand and helped bring numerous cultural items as well as Turkish food. 

Highlights from the food table were Kisir, a rice dish mixed with herbs and spices, Borek, which is bread stuffed with feta cheese, and Baklava, a sweet flaky pastry made with nuts and honey.

There was also a dish which consisted of rice wrapped in grape leaves and flavored with vinaigrette dressing.

Mrs. Rick said there was a constant flow of people.

"People kept coming and going," she said. "At one point we had a head count of 68 people, but many more came and went throughout the afternoon."

Children flocked to the tables with Mexican-themed arts and crafts that were sponsored by the Youth Center. Most of the children were mesmerized by the Ojo de Dios, or "God's eye," table. The adults favored the ethnic music characterized by intoxicating percussion and seductive melodies.

One table sponsored by the Turkish Society of San Antonio featured bindallis, which are traditional robes worn during events like bachelor and bachelorette parties. In English, bindalli means 1,000 branches. The name refers to the intricate stitching that resembles several golden branches on the garments.

Like many other first-time events, the Cultural Festival will be undergoing some tweaking.

"One thing I didn't realize until after the event was over was that it was held the weekend before school started, and I think that might have affected attendance" Mrs. Rick said. "I'm not sure what we will do next year, but I'm looking into moving the event outside, possibly to the amphitheater and perhaps to October, when the weather is a little cooler."

Mrs. Rick is also hoping to receive more participation next year from on-base organizations.

Still, Mrs. Rick was very grateful for all of the volunteers that came to help with the festival, especially, Tech. Sgt. Roberto Cerda, who was the event's emcee, Erik Torgerson, who was the DJ, and Senior Airman Brandon Browne.

"I couldn't have done this event without the help from some great volunteers," Mrs. Rick said.