News: March 18, 2005
FAMILY FESTIVAL ON MAY 7 WILL FEATURE LOTS OF FUN FOR EVERYONE
“Think of it as an open house,” says Souzan Karadsheh, Calvin’s hospitality events manager. “Feel free to leave any time and come back again. Get a meal and take in the entertainment and fun the entire day.”
The festival brings Middle Eastern artists, vendors, photographers, tattoo
and henna artists, singers, dancers, a clown (even a whirling dervish)
to Grand Rapids and puts them all under the Sultan’s Tent in the
parking lot of Calvin’s Prince Conference Center.
Included in the $15 Petra Family Festival ticket are admission to the exhibition and all of the festival activities (Middle Eastern arts and crafts sessions and a Middle Eastern meal with kebabs, hummus, tabbouleh, baklava and Arabic coffee and other beverages catered by the Pita House).
“Every hour or every half-hour there is some dance or music performance happening,” Karadsheh says.
Throughout the day, Sa’id Music and Dance Company, specialists in Middle Eastern folkloric dance, take to the festival stage to perform dances and live music from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, “and, of course, the Jordanian dabkeh,” Karadsheh says.
Five times during the festival Mohamed Shahin, a whirling dervish, will perform his art.
“When I started looking for a dervish, it was so difficult. I only came across two in the United States,” Karadsheh says. “This whirling dance that he does is very strenuous— physically demanding.”
And as a crown to the festival entertainment, Zade, a 24-year-old Jordanian pianist and composer whose compositions blend Eastern Arabic and Western contemporary influences, will perform. “Zade is a terrific pianist with a passion for his country,” Karadsheh says.
Recognized by the Jordanian royal family as “one of six achievers … leading the country into its new era,” Zade will both speak and perform at a 3 p.m. workshop and provide the closing entertainment for the festival at 7:15 p.m. “It’s just an honor to have someone of his caliber participating at a festival of this type,” Karadsheh says.
Throughout the day, families can come and go to the exhibit and the arts and crafts, taking place in the Prince Conference Center Board Room from 1–5 p.m. Under the tent various stations will offer henna art, arabic calligraphy and caricature drawing. At the “Dress Petra” photo booth, families can dress in authentic Middle Eastern clothing and pose for pictures. (The photograph is also free with the price of the ticket.)
Artisans and vendors will sell non-perishable Middle Eastern grocery items and sweets, clothing, ceramics, fine art and jewelry. Clowns, jugglers and people dressed as Middle Eastern characters will stroll the crowds.
Karadsheh is excited about how the festival, and Calvin’s other events, add new dimensions to Petra: Lost City of Stone.
“The reason why we came up with these events," she says, "is so we can bring a cultural experience to this exhibit. It’s not just artifacts, but the culture of Petra, Jordan, and the Middle East. It’s such a warm and fun culture that people here aren’t so familiar with, and for Calvin to be the venue for that makes me very proud and excited.”