Lebanese festival returns to Our Lady of Victory

| Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, 2:11 p.m.

Whether you share the titular heritage or not, there's something for everyone at this weekend's Pittsburgh Lebanese Festival — especially, if you have a taste for tabouli.

The Levantine Arab salad, of course, is just one of the myriad menu options at the festival. And it's the distinctive-yet-familiar nature of the cuisine that keeps people of all faiths coming to Scott's Our Lady of Victory Maronite Catholic Church every year.

“People are familiar with Lebanese food. We just have to let them know it's here and when,” said Father Rodolph Wakim, head pastor at the church. “We're getting a lot of phone calls already with people looking for the menu.”

The festival — which runs Friday through Sunday at the church's location at 1000 Lindsay Road — is the centerpiece of what has become a major weekend for the region's Lebanese community.

“It's one of the biggest fundraisers of the year,” Wakim said. “We wait all year for it.”

And for the third straight year, Pittsburgh City Council will be declaring Sunday as Lebanese Day, with Wakim on hand to receive the proclamation. Theresa Kail-Smith, the city's District 2 councilwoman, has Lebanese heritage, Wakim said, and was key in pushing forward the idea.

“It's nice for us and recognizes our litany of achievements,” he said.

To go with Mediterranean-inspired food, the festival features game booths for children, live music and dancing. You can even top the day off with a Lebanese coffee. It all helps the church connect with the scattered Lebanese and Maronite pockets throughout the metro area.

In its current location for 15 years, the church hopes to one day build a larger building for worship and pull in more of those potential members full-time.

“Not many of them are able to make it to the church,” Wakim said. “We have a large Lebanese community, but the church is not large. We have 180 families. The festival has been instrumental is helping us meet our finances.”

Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dstefano@tribweb.com or 412-388-5816.

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