International Festival - Perrysburg

41.) International Festival – Perrysburg – August 8, 2010

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As you cross I-75 and pass the Perrysburg water tower…

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…you can notice something in the distance…

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…a structure unlike others in Northwest Ohio…

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…an Islamic center.

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Opening its doors in 1983, the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo was the first Islamic style mosque in North America, constructed after the Muslim community got too big for the previous East Bancroft Street (Toledo) location.

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But I’ll let you read this yourself (click pic above to open in new window).

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We’re hear to talk about their International Festival

With a $3 parking fee, each car is given an informative book…

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…which has a festival menu divided by nationality, recipes and even some political endorsements (which is interesting).

More importantly, the booklet has the center’s history as well as information about the Islamic faith, including the beliefs, the origins and its connection to other religions (particularly Judaism and Christianity).

Now in its 10th year, the International Festival isn’t only about celebrating various cultures, as Lorain’s International Festival does. It’s about creating an awareness of other cultures and the Islamic faith, dispelling inaccurate viewpoints and thoughts, and connecting with the community.

As Munier Nazzal, President of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, states in his welcoming letter found in the booklet…

“Knowing each other, understanding the cultures of each other, participation in each other’s activities is a way of making the distance among all of us much shorter.”
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The festival took place behind the center and had some rather interesting things to do, such as…

…rock climbing…

…a cool inflatable…

…car racing…

…pony rides…

…and camel rides.

The camel ride was something that brought me to this festival. I remembered a photo of my grandfather on a camel in Egypt and it was one of those cool things he sometimes talked about. I thought of the possibility of having a ride myself as a way to pay homage to him.

Besides…she looked like she was having fun.

In the end, with Julia reminding me that it was $5 to go in a rather small circle twice, I thought a better homage would be to ride one in Egypt instead.

The main part of the festival took place inside a large tent…

…a very large tent.

One side of the tent held cultural gifts to purchase like…

…kites…

…clothing…

…jewelry…

…and children’s books.

One table even had henna…

…which is used to dye skin…

…and make interesting designs (check out the artist’s hand).

The other side of the tent was the more interesting side because it had…

…food from various countries.

Cultural dishes made with recipes from Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey and other countries were set along the tables. The aromas of spices filled the air as we checked out…

…breads and pies…

…and dishes I hadn’t yet tasted.

But while a few dishes or desserts…

…could be paid in cash…

…that crazy ticket system came back to haunt us.

Fortunately, with the food tables spread out down the side of the tent, it was a lot easier to deal with the food ticket system here. The food ticket line was never a long wait and it was easy to come back and forth between tables if you needed additional tickets.

Since we weren’t hungry at the moment, we decided to take advantage of the Islamic Center’s free tour. Arriving just as a tour was starting, we grabbed two seats and watched an introductory video before being led throughout the center.

One of the more interesting rooms was the prayer room. Here, we were instructed to take off our shoes before entering the carpeted room.

The most decorated wall indicated the direction of Mecca…

…and a clock in the room showed the various times of prayer (the top clock is the current time).

There were rugs with beautiful calligraphy…

…and the windows were gorgeous.

Click on each to open a larger size in a new window.

The center also had…

…a quaint library…

…and an international room…

…showcasing treasures from those countries that members came from.

The tour was interesting and our tour guide was sincere and welcoming. In fact, one of our discussions on the way home was just how friendly everyone was…whether at the ticket tables, the book store, the food tables, etc. It was definitely the people that made the festival a wonderful experience overall.

After the tour, we collected some food to take home. It was a small hodgepodge of grub, but a rather tasty and enjoyable one.

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