Lebanese Festival showcases food and culture in the Star City for the 23rd year

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – Each year, the Lebanese Festival brings culture, music and some of the tastiest food you can find in Roanoke.

“We have everything that you would probably want,” said Marcelle Melki.

Melki is one of two women in charge of the kitchen for the festival. She’s been cooking some of her favorite dishes for the community since it started 25 years ago.

“The very first one we had was in 1998 and it was totally new to us. But we did very well to be amateurs at the time,” said Melki.

Today they’re no longer amateur’s. Hundreds of people come out during the summer weekend just for a taste of the traditional plates.

“We tried to incorporate our main food items to share with everybody that food is what we do and we welcome everybody to come and join us for that,” explained Melki.

Organizers said Lebanese roots have been in the Star City for over 130 years. The festival is an opportunity to share some of that history.

“We want to continue our heritage here in Roanoke based on our ancestors that we’re very proud of,” said Melki. “We love the country and we wanted to be in Roanoke. And we continue to share our culture,” she added.

And teach the next generation what it’s all about.

“We want to introduce them to the culture and our history of Lebanon also while they’re here . . . For the young people to know something about our culture so we can pass it on to the next generation,” said Melki.

Experiencing and sharing what Lebanon has to offer without leaving Roanoke City is what motivates Melki to help prepare food each year. “I just can’t stay away,” she said, and hopes all who come out to the festival are able to appreciate it as well.

“I hope they leave here happy that they shared it with us and come back next year,” she finished.

A weekend full of flavor, fun and festivities concluded Sunday night – But everyone’s favorite dishes will be back next year for the next annual Lebanese Festival.

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