The city of El Cajon, California has designated the month of September of this year as Chaldean Month. This designation is to recognize the Chaldean Community as one of the main and active ethnic groups that contributes to the life of this vibrant city. Various activities are held throughout the month in order to show the cultural aspects of the community, from food to music to art.
The Knights of Columbus – Mar Toma Council undertook the task of organizing one of the most important of these activities, the annual Chaldean American Food Festival, which was held at the city grounds in Downtown El Cajon on September 19-20, 2015. It was a big project and the Knights went to work for two months. City permits and insurance were obtained for the event. Individuals, local businesses, and suppliers were contacted for their sponsorships. Flyers, posters, and banners were printed and distributed throughout the city to announce the event as a fundraiser, tickets for a new 2016 car were sold and the winner was to be announced at the last day of the festival. As the date of the festival continued to grow closer, the meeting room of the Knights of Columbus at St. Peter Chaldean Cathedral continued to grow fuller with the Knights trying to complete the tasks at hand. With the full support of our church, along with our bishop, we were able to accomplish our goals.
On the 19th of September, and under sunny skies, the festival commenced with the singing of the national Anthem and the Chaldean Anthem followed by greetings from the representative of the Mayor of El Cajon, Mr. Tony Ambrose and the Bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Mar Sarhad Yousip Jammo. For two days the residents of this great city enjoyed Chaldean music by various local bands, delicious Chaldean food including Kabob, Shawarma, and other delicious dishes, and folkloric dances by dancers in ethnic dresses. The children, especially, had fun with many rides and games available.
On the last day and at the last hour of the festival, a name was withdrawn for the wining of the raffled car. As the festival neared its end, the crowd jumped with joy to cap off the two days of celebration. The Chaldean community was successful in celebrating Chaldean month and representing our culture in the beautiful city of El Cajon where we call home. The plight of our suffering Christians in Iraq and in the Middle East was present in the festival with a wall of posters and photographs that illustrated the terrible conditions back home.
We enjoyed our time at the 5th annual Chaldean American Food Festival, and we remembered our brothers and sisters in their time of hardship.