By Taylor Adams
DALLAS, Texas — The second annual Arab Texas Festival returns to Mesquite on Sept. 2, offering food, performers and activities aimed at spotlighting Arabic culture. And it comes with a tempting array of food, including shawarma, falafel, meat and cheese pies and Arabic desserts.
The festival is the brainchild of the Richardson-based Arab American Cultural Society, co-founded by Alaa Shalabi and Massoud Khayyat.
The event is designed to “include all type of entertainment, plus showcasing our local food vendors, while allowing the community to learn more about the Arab Culture and to address misconceptions and stereotypes that are still prevalent in today’s society,” said Alex Khafaji, who does marketing for the AACS.
Last year the event drew 7,500 people from the region and surrounding states. This year, the AACS hopes to have more than 10,000 from across the U.S. and other countries.
While it aims to be an informative and fun event, the festival also serves a greater purpose.
“Our organization consists of countless volunteers and some prominent Arab business leaders who help to put together our annual festival, plus numerous community service projects, such as a TangoTab event, which help feed hundreds of homeless people in the metroplex,” Khafaji said. “We also took part in a North Texas Food Bank volunteer action day, which allowed our team to organize and pack hundreds of boxes for the community and raise awareness to donating items to the North Texas Food Bank.”
AACS also provides mentoring services to local refugees.
The Sunday event is geared toward anyone who wants to learn more about Arabic culture and try some good food. And it truly is a festival — with carnival rides, paddle boats, a petting zoo, pony rides and indoor cultural exhibits.
“We hope to extend an invitation to our entire community, regardless of religion, race, national origin, sexual orientation or disability, to enjoy a fun, festive day with lots of quality entertainers, professional dabke dancing, fashion show, plus enjoy many ethnic food and drinks from nearly a dozen local vendors,” Khafaji said.
Arabic coffee and tea will be available, along with hookahs with many flavors. Vendors will be selling a variety of halal foods, from mashawi to shawarma, falafel and kenafe.
“Like we said at our last festival,” Khafaji said, “you will be able to experience the Middle East right here in your own backyard on Labor Day weekend without having to experience the travel expenses.”
Tickets are $30, which includes admission to all kids activities, music entertainment, free parking and boat rides. (Food and drinks are not included.) Children younger than 6 enter for free.
The Arab Texas Festival runs 1 p.m.-midnight Sept. 2 at Double D Ranch, 12809 Eastgate Dr., Mesquite