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St. Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival

Food, Fun and Faith for over 8,500 people...

it did not happen overnight. The planning for the first Saint Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival began in 1998.  Norman and Paul Bolus, brothers, had the enterprising idea of starting a food festival for their church. They had always marveled at the success of neighboring Saint George’s Food Festival and the Greek Food Festival. They had also cherished their memories of attending the Birmingham International Festival as children. So thus inspired, they resolutely decided to showcase their heritage in a similar way. After some initial information gathering from the other local festivals, the brothers began to lobby their idea to the church family. Chorbishop Richard Saad, the pastor of Saint Elias, the Saint Elias Pastoral and Stewardship Committees, as well as the entire parish at the church annual meeting, had to agree to the idea before the necessary resources would be committed.  Chorbishop Saad suggested that the Festival be called the Saint Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival to emphasize that this was to showcase our church’s rich traditions and heritage.  Everyone readily agreed. One of the first obstacles for these brothers was to decide the recipes to use for the food (the key to drawing crowds and fellow parishioners). Recipe taste tests began and after many different recipes were tried (and many different opinions were offered), the perfect combination of recipes was finally established. Our baked kibbee, lemon chicken, grape leaves, homus, spinach pies, Lebanese salad, kiak, loobia (green beans), and rice recipes thus were established and calculated for mass production. The parish pulled together and, with much effort and prayer, pulled off their first Festival in 1999.  The success exceeded the wildest expectations of the brothers and the parish.  Each year since, the Festival has grown larger and better, thanks to the support of the community.  Over 300 volunteers from the parish now contribute in their own special ways to make the Festival the success it is. Many organizations at the church are rewarded for their labor by enjoying part of the proceeds of the Festival, including: the Junior Maronite Youth Organization, the Maronite Youth Organization, the Maronite Young Adults, the Ladies Altar Society, and the Endowment fund, which finances future church projects. In addition, twenty five percent of festival proceeds are donated to outside charities. In 2011, Ben Smith became co-chair of the Festival with Paul Bolus and Norman remained on as a consultant. To date St. Elias, from festival proceeds, has donated over $310,000 dollars to local, national, and international charities. However, “there are some things that money cannot buy.” The St. Elias Food and Cultural Festival has brought the parish together each year to work as a church family and to showcase what a Christian Lebanese faith community is really all about.  It is our hope that through our Festival we are not only carrying on the traditions of our culture to the next generation, but we are also able to display our culture to the community for a better understanding of our Lebanese Christian faith.  At the same time, through our donations, we are able to give back to the community that has supported us each year. As the Festival continues to grow, the hope is that this rewarding cycle for the church and the community will continue for many years to come.
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205.251.5057

St. Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural

Festival

Food, Fun and Faith for over 8,500 people...

it did not happen overnight. The planning for the first Saint Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival began in 1998.  Norman and Paul Bolus, brothers, had the enterprising idea of starting a food festival for their church. They had always marveled at the success of neighboring Saint George’s Food Festival and the Greek Food Festival. They had also cherished their memories of attending the Birmingham International Festival as children. So thus inspired, they resolutely decided to showcase their heritage in a similar way. After some initial information gathering from the other local festivals, the brothers began to lobby their idea to the church family. Chorbishop Richard Saad, the pastor of Saint Elias, the Saint Elias Pastoral and Stewardship Committees, as well as the entire parish at the church annual meeting, had to agree to the idea before the necessary resources would be committed.  Chorbishop Saad suggested that the Festival be called the Saint Elias Lebanese Food and Cultural Festival to emphasize that this was to showcase our church’s rich traditions and heritage.  Everyone readily agreed. One of the first obstacles for these brothers was to decide the recipes to use for the food (the key to drawing crowds and fellow parishioners). Recipe taste tests began and after many different recipes were tried (and many different opinions were offered), the perfect combination of recipes was finally established. Our baked kibbee, lemon chicken, grape leaves, homus, spinach pies, Lebanese salad, kiak, loobia (green beans), and rice recipes thus were established and calculated for mass production. The parish pulled together and, with much effort and prayer, pulled off their first Festival in 1999.  The success exceeded the wildest expectations of the brothers and the parish.  Each year since, the Festival has grown larger and better, thanks to the support of the community.  Over 300 volunteers from the parish now contribute in their own special ways to make the Festival the success it is. Many organizations at the church are rewarded for their labor by enjoying part of the proceeds of the Festival, including: the Junior Maronite Youth Organization, the Maronite Youth Organization, the Maronite Young Adults, the Ladies Altar Society, and the Endowment fund, which finances future church projects. In addition, twenty five percent of festival proceeds are donated to outside charities. In 2011, Ben Smith became co-chair of the Festival with Paul Bolus and Norman remained on as a consultant. To date St. Elias, from festival proceeds, has donated over $310,000 dollars to local, national, and international charities. However, “there are some things that money cannot buy.” The St. Elias Food and Cultural Festival has brought the parish together each year to work as a church family and to showcase what a Christian Lebanese faith community is really all about.  It is our hope that through our Festival we are not only carrying on the traditions of our culture to the next generation, but we are also able to display our culture to the community for a better understanding of our Lebanese Christian faith.  At the same time, through our donations, we are able to give back to the community that has supported us each year. As the Festival continues to grow, the hope is that this rewarding cycle for the church and the community will continue for many years to come.