LebFest Promises Good Times
By Nick Meyer
Friday, 07.25.2008, 11:18pm
— The second annual Lebfest will descend upon Birmingham,
Michigan for a two-day celebration of Lebanese culture.
Running from noon-10 p.m. on Friday, August 1 and 10 a.m.-10
p.m. Saturday, August 2, the festival is expecting big things
with its impressive lineup of attractions.
Both food and entertainment will be plentiful at the event,
which features big-name guests such as Michigan lieutenant
governor John Cherry and his wife Pamela Farris, who is Lebanese;Michigan
Secretary of State Terry Lyn Land; Motown singer Martha Reeves;
and former Detroit Lions star Lomas Brown, who is the festival's
2008 Grand Marshall.
"The event was an overwhelming success last year,"
said John Akouri, chairman of the festival. "We saw considerable
diversity last year and that was the nice thing about it.
Everyone loves all things Lebanese, including the food, the
entertainment, and the music."
Akouri stressed that the festival is for anyone who likes
to have a good time in a family-friendly atmosphere and that
people of all backgrounds are welcome. He also talked about
why Lebanese culture is important to the area.
"Lebanese Americans have been in America for over a century
and our culture is very well-known," he said. "The
Lebanese community is definitely a part of the fabric that
makes up the mosaic of the city of Detroit."
Attractions at this year's festival include performances
by international superstars Bassam Saleh and Usama Baalbaki,
Detroit Bellydance, New York comedian George Saba, oud virtuoso
Karim Badr & friends, an ethnic bazaar and market, and
an after party at the Community House Terrace Café.
Two other events at Lebfest will celebrate two recent examples
of Lebanese contributions as well.
Popular author Habib Chamoun will be on
hand signing copies of his book "Negoiate like a Phoenician"
Friday and Saturday on the festival grounds. The book has
received rave reviews from the Harvard Business School and
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology among other places.
Chamoun, who was born in Mexico but is Lebanese, wrote the
book to transmit the ancient Phoenicians' expertise in negotiations
to today's sales professionals. The Phoenicians have long
been known for that ability so Chamoun researched exactly
what made them so good at it.
"The Phoenicians were very open-minded and flexible,
that's what made them so successful, they could mix with everybody,"
said Chamoun. "The had respect for women, religious tolerance,
and they respected differences. That's how you treat people
in a business environment; you inject humanity, care about
the person and care about the other."
The book has been presented in 15 different countries and
has received warm welcomes on college campuses.
While the Phoenicians were last prevalent around 300 B.C.,
many Lebanese people identify themselves as descendants of
them and take pride in their accomplishments, such as when
they became the first society to make extensive use of the
alphabet. Chamoun talked about the Lebanese connection and
"Many people connect to Lebanese culture through food.
If you go to a restaurant and you eat, it's like culture.
This book is connecting Lebanese through reading and through
culture; it's another level, more intellectual, and I'm really
happy about it."
In addition to the book signing, the film premiere of Deborah
Harse's documentary "Marathon Beirut, For the Love of
Lebanon" will take place on Sunday, August 3 at 12:30
pm at the Landmark Maple Art Theatre in Bloomfield Twp.
Space is limited to the first 400 people for the premiere
of the movie, which was shot in November-December 2006 and
November 2007. The film tells the story of the aftermath of
the war and how the Beirut Marathon Association chose not
to cancel the event but to carry on as a tribute to the resilience
of the Lebanese people.
Admission for the festival is free and several children's
attractions are also planned including a play area, games,
and clowns, so stop by for a taste of what Lebfest has to
offer in 2008.