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84th Mahrajan Expands to Two Days

WHEELING — Building on the success of its long-standing Mahrajan, Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Wheeling is expanding its 84th annual heritage celebration into a two-day Lebanese Fest on Saturday, Aug, 12 and Sunday, Aug, 13.

The Lebanese Fest will open this year with a Maronite Catholic Liturgy at the historic church on Eoff Street at 4 p.m. on Saturday before moving to the grounds of Levenson Shelter at Oglebay Park for live music, dance performances, inflatable amusements and other activities that will last until 10 p.m. Food service will begin at 4 p.m.

Sunday’s festivities begin at 10:30 a.m., with a Maronite Catholic Liturgy at Oglebay Park to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Continuing the traditional Maronite Rite, parts of the mass will be recited in Aramaic. Monsignor Bakhos Chidiac, pastor of Our Lady of Lebanon Church, will preside over the Liturgy.

A full-day of Lebanese Fest activities for the entire family will run from noon-7 p.m.

“Over the years, thousands of people of all backgrounds have enjoyed the welcoming culture of Lebanon with us at our Mahrajan. Many of our patrons travel in from across the country to celebrate their family reunions and have asked us to add another day to our annual event,” said Monsignor Chidiac.

Through the support of church and community volunteers, visitors to this favorite Upper Ohio Valley event will enjoy two-days of authentic Lebanese food, hospitality and live entertainment in a family-friendly setting reminiscent of villages throughout Lebanon.

“We are blessed to live in a culturally diverse area filled with so many giving people and we are proud to belong to a community that celebrates the ethnic histories and traditions that have been passed down through the generations,” Monsignor Chidiac.

One tradition that attracts visitors to the Lebanese Fest (Mahrajan) each year is authentic Lebanese food. Visitors will dine on kibbee, lamb shish kabob, shawarma, falafel, rolled grape leaves, tabouli, hummus, meat and spinach pies, as well as baklava and other Lebanese pastries, beer and other beverages. Food and beverages will be sold ala carte both days, while supplies last. Cash and credit cards will be accepted.

Another favorite tradition of any Lebanese gathering is music and dance. The David Hakim Ensemble from Cleveland will return to perform live music and lead visitors in the “Dabke” – a traditional folk dance led by a drummer. Our Lady of Lebanon Church will introduce its young adults and youth dance groups to the entertainment line-up this year and welcome back Troupe Bint il Nahar, a dance troupe, led by internationally award-winning and professional belly dancer Tiffani Ahdia of Huntington, WV.

As in the past, vendors will be on site with games, souvenirs and specialty gifts.

The Lebanese Fest (Mahrajan) is the largest fundraiser for Our Lady of Lebanon Church, which is West Virginia’s only Maronite Catholic Church. The first Mahrajan was held in 1933 to raise funds to rebuild the church after it was destroyed by a fire in 1932.

Held rain or shine, the Lebanese Fest is open to the public. There is no charge for parking or admission. Free, open-air seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Additional details are available at www.lebanesefest.org or by calling 304-233-1688.

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