Anatolian Festival Gets off to a Great Start


The Third Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival had a strong start today despite recent rain slowing down last minute preparations. The festival is scheduled to run through Sunday Oct. 9 at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. The rain affected our construction schedule,as said Ibrahim Barlas, President of the Pacifica Institute, the Los Angeles-based organization that sponsored the event. But our team worked around the clock the final two days to get everything readyand we are very

relieved we made it.

The team included 30 construction workers from Turkey and 400 volunteers and employees from California and elsewhere. They spent the last ten days putting up the many exhibits and sets representing the various civilizations that settled in Anatolia going back thousands of years.

The festival is spread over 500,000 square meters of land at the historic Orange County Fairgrounds, situated 60 kilometers south of Los Angeles. The exhibits include interactive replicas of important landmarks like the Topkapi Palace, the Maiden’s Tower and the Sehzadebasi Mosque in Istanbul, the Aspendos ruins in Antalya, Rumi’s Museum in Konya and the Akhdamar Church in Van.

For the next four days the festival will inform and entertain visitors with a series of concerts and performances ranging from dances by a 35-member folk group to the pop singer Ferhat Atli. New this year is a lecture series by prominent journalists and academics who will look at a range of topics from Turkish-Israeli relations to Turkish Pastas. There are a lot more attractions and additions to the festival this year, as said Mr. Barlas, The lectures will add an intellectual dimension.

Local media organizations like the OC Register and ABC7 News were there to cover the first day. There were also journalists from around the world on hand, including a group of 50 Turkish media representatives.

Among the first to walk through the impressive Gates of Civilizations pathway were students from Kindergarden to 12th grade from schools in California. More than 4700 students have registered to attend the festival and take advantage of the organizers’ offer of free or discounted field trips.

The food is really good, as said Vincenzo, a tenth grader at the School. I also learned how people lived back then.I like walking around and seeing all the different cultures, added Billy, also a tenth-grader at the school. The boys and their classmates ate a lunch of manti, doner sandwiches and the famous Maras sticky ice-cream.

The traditional ice-cream stand was again one of the main attractions with Erol Kozoglu, the crafty ice-cream maker entertaining the crowds with his skills at manipulating the stretchy confection. He estimated he sold more than 200 portions during the first day. Other hotspots among the 120 food and craft stands include the makers of manti or Turkish dumplings who are ready to dish out some 450 kilograms of the homemade mantis until Sunday.

The gozleme ladies, Sidika On and Hatice Muslu were also at their stand, ready to make hundreds of the savory pastries by rolling out paper thin sheets of dough. They predicted they might break their own record by rolling out an average of 250 gozlemes per day.

Also working hard were the many performers who traveled to the event from Turkey. Returning for his third year is the singer Yusuf Sahik from the city of Van, who is accompanied by a team of veteran folk dancers from the region. Sahik was confident that their lively turkus will get festival-goers of all ages on their feet and dancing throughout the festival.

The Van group also features four-year-old Semo, the cat with the distinctive blue and green eyes. Semo did not seem to mind the attention from visitors but one of his minders, Metin Barlik, an assistant professor at the University of Van said that this rare breed likes to stay at home and eat fish.

This kind of festival brings us closer to another culture and we have a chance to see their customs and their history, said Cece Sloane of Orange County, who came to the festival to find out more about Turkey. Learning about people’s history first hand is very important.

According to weather reports, the festival will enjoy four days of California’s trademark sunny skies.

Pacifica Institute Presents Lecture Series at Anatolian Festival

LOS ANGELES,Oct. 3, 2011/PRNewswire/ — The Pacifica Institute announced that Turkish-Israeli relations and other important issues facingTurkeytoday will be among a series of lectures at the Third Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival onOctober 6-9, 2011at the Orange County Fairgrounds inCosta Mesa.

Other topics are the legacy of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, Islam inTurkey,Turkeyand the Arab Spring, Jewish-Muslim history, and the significance of the Turkish religious leader,Fethullah Gulen. They will be presented by journalists and academics fromTurkeyand the U.S.

For a full schedule

The lectures are as follows:

“Islam inTurkey: An Exceptional Story”
“Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty”
Mustafa Akyol, columnist for the Turkish newspapers, Hurriyet Daily News and Star. Akyol’s articles have also appeared in Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal and his book, “Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty, an argument for “Muslim liberalism,” was published byW.W. NortoninJuly 2011.

“Turkeyand the Arab Spring:Turkey’s role in the Muslim-Arab World’s Democratization Efforts”
“Turkish-Israeli Relations: From Strategic Alliance to Downgrading of Relations”
Kerim Balci, Editor-in-Chief of the Turkish Review, a bimonthly journal published byTurkey’s Zaman Media Group. Balci is also a columnist in Today’s Zaman and a TV correspondent on theMiddle East. He was theJerusalemcorrespondent for Zaman for eight years.

“Cultural Legacy of Armenians in Anatolia and in the Ottoman Empire”
Edvin Minassian, an attorney and Chairman of the Organization of Istanbul Armenians; Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Armenian Bar Association and the Government Relations and Protocol Committee of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

“Turkish Pastas”
Charles Perry, a food writer and historian of Middle Eastern food, who served as staff writer for the Los Angeles Times Food Section from 1990-2008 and translated a 13th-Century Baghdad food book.

“Wrestling with Free Speech, Religious Freedom and Democracy inTurkey: The Political Trials and Times ofFethullah Gulen”
byJames C. Harrington, a human rights attorney, and founder and director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, who has taught at theUniversity of TexasSchool of Law for twenty-five years.

“The Scriptural Foundations of Muslim-Jewish Dialogue and Coexistence in Muslim and Jewish Sacred Texts
by RabbiReuven Firestone, professor of medieval Judaism and Islam atHebrew Union Collegeand founder and co-director of the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (

“Yes, I Would Love Another Glass of Tea”
byKatharine Branning, Vice-President of the French Institute Alliance Francaise inNew York Cityand has a website,, dedicated to Seljuk hans. She wrote a collection of essays onTurkey, published by Blue Dome Presse: “Yes, I Would love Another Glass of Tea”.

For schedules and information email or call (310) 208 7290. Interviews are available before and during the festival.

Pacifica Institute Invites K-12 Students to Anatolian Festival

School groups will receive free passes on October 6 and 7 to attend the festival, which complies with Board of Educations Standards.

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The Pacifica Institute is inviting local students to its Third Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival to be held at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa from October 6 to 9, 2011. The festival offers children an interactive opportunity to learn about the diverse culture and history of the Anatolian people. It is organized by the Pacifica Institute and is one of the largest events of its kind.

Student groups along with their teachers can attend the Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival for free on Thursday, Oct. 6 and Friday, Oct. 7. (Regular admission for adults is $12 and for students $6). To register visit

The Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival is a hands-on learning experience, which complies with the objectives of the California State Board of Education Standards for History, Social Sciences and Visual and Performing Arts.

The festival takes place in a 15-acre area with large-scale recreations of five major Anatolian cities. There will also be an exhibit called “The Paths of Anatolia” showcasing the cultures that thrived in the region, including the Hittites, Trojans, Urartians, Phrigians, Lydians, Ionians, Commagenians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, Ottomans, and Turks. Actors dressed in authentic costumes will greet visitors giving information and bringing the exhibits to life.

On display there will also be documents translated from historic manuscripts, as well as scaled up 3D models and photographs of original historic sites, like the Topkapi Palace and the Akhdamar Church. Visitors will also be able to observe and interact with various craftsmen demonstrating such skills as filigree and weaving.

The festival will also feature a playground for children with a variety of games and play structures. On a stage at the center of the festival there will be folk dancing performances and concerts throughout the day. At more than 120 booths representing Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar festivalgoers will also be able to savor authentic foods and purchase handcrafts.

The Pacifica Institute is a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles whose mission is to encourage multi-cultural dialogue.

For more information please or call (310) 208 7290.

Anatolian Festival Set for OC Fairgrounds Oct. 6 to 9

LOS ANGELES,Sept. 14, 2011/PRNewswire/ — The Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival ( is gearing up for another celebration fromTurkey’s heartland.

The Pacifica Institute ( will host the Third Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival at the Orange County Fairgrounds fromOctober 6 to 9, 2011. Returning this year are popular cultural exhibits, foods, crafts, and performances highlighting the diverse history of the region, along with an array of new features.

“We are excited to be back,” saidIbrahim Barlas, President of the Pacifica Institute. “As before, there is something for the whole family to enjoy and, of course, we have many wonderful new additions, too.”

The festival will again showcase the best of Anatolia, with exhibits of the cities ofIstanbul, Konya, Mardin and Van. This year, Antalya will be joined by the cities of Isparta and Burdur in the Western Mediterranean section. Others participating will be Corum, known for the roasted chickpea called Leblebi, and Hatay, home of the cheese desert, Kunefe.

Istanbulwill once again house the breathtaking Topkapi Palace exhibit, where actors in costumes will offer a glimpse into life in the Sultan’s court. Craftsmen at each exhibit will demonstrate traditional arts such as calligraphy, carving, weaving and pottery.

As ever, food will be one of the festival’s main attractions. Traditional breads and pastries, spicy kebabs and mouthwatering desserts and many delicacies from this region’s cuisine will be prepared by cooks at the festival. These will be on offer at the Grand Bazaar, with its 100 stalls along with other authentic goods.

This year, organizers have added a second traditional coffee house offering Turkish coffee and teas. Other ethnic refreshments will also be available at a replica of the Ahmet III Fountain inIstanbul’s historic Uskudar district.

On the main stage, there will be an exciting line-up of live performances. Among them will be the popular Ottoman Marching Band and the Ankara Folk Ensemble, attending with 35 performers this year.

The Pacifica Institute is a non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage multi-cultural dialogue. The event is sponsored by theLos Angeles-based Pacifica Institute along with the California Turkish American Chamber of Commerce (CATA) and the West America Turkic Council (WATC).

For schedule and ticket information email or call(310) 208 7290.

SOURCE Pacifica Institute


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