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Middle Eastern Festival

This year marked the final Middle Eastern Festival located at 40th and Sherman.  Next year, the church will be in a large new facility in Fishers:

Architectural Rendering of new church in Fishers

This was a bit bittersweet for me, as I had a great time as always, but it might also be the last time my family and I attend.  I have been a regular at this event since I first discovered it about 7-8 years ago.  Many people might not be familiar with this church, but there has been a Middle Eastern Orthodox congregation in Indianapolis since 1926. The original church is pictured here:

The current church dates from the Mid-Century Modern era of architecture:

The interior is swimming with stained glass, which will thankfully make the move with them to Fishers:

Of course no festival is complete without the food. I usually order the kafta kebab, which is minced lamb served with onions, parsley, and tomatoes in a fresh wrap:

The dessert table is particularly huge. I always spend way too much money here:

Finally, there is the dancing, which starts early and lasts for most of the night. My daughter is about to join the kids on stage here:

I will miss this festival in the city dearly, as I’ve found nothing that really compares to it.  It is a sign of the times as the suburbs begin to diversify.   I hope that the charter school that replaces this church can also be a long-term asset to the community.   They probably won’t serve delicious kafta kebobs, but our city needs great schools too.

14 Responses to “ “Middle Eastern Festival”

  1. JP says:

    There was a very similar and popular Greek festival that took place each year in Meridian-Kessler neighborhood before they built a new church in Carmel (3-4 years ago). I think the old church is now leased to Indianapolis Opera.

    • Bill says:

      Yes, the home of the Indianapolis Opera is the former Greek church at 40th and Penn/Washington (by the generosity of Bill Oesterle.) They have an annual festival, too, Lobsterpalooza, this year on September 14. I’m not a shill for the Opera (but happily would be) just a neighbor who is happy to have a great local cultural institution in my neighborhood, where its events are within walking or biking distance, which coincidentally brings us back to the subject of this blog!

  2. John Howard says:

    The same fate befell the Greek Festival a few years ago.

    Oh, well, we still have the Italian Festival on the southside (although it was cancelled for this year due to a change in leadership)

  3. flavius says:

    “It might also be the last time my family and I attend.” Are you boycotting Fishers, or is the festival just not worth driving that far?

    • Just logistics. I love the festival, but it will be quite a ways away from the places I normally go. One of the things I liked about it was I could usually round up some friends to go with us. That might not be as easy when it is a bit of a drive in each direction.

  4. Micah says:

    I definitely will not attend anymore because I do not believe in Fishers. I may get shot up there by someone who couldn’t stand living with a brown lawn for two weeks. Plus, I would have to spend more time in the car than the actual festival. Too bad…the Middle Eastern Festival will be missed for sure.

  5. Brandon says:

    My family helped start this church after arriving from Lebanon. The festival was amazing this year!!

  6. Does anyone know (ballpark estimates, or guesses) the breakdown of the groups who attend this church, in terms of ancestry? Are they mostly Lebanese/Syriacs, or Egyptian Coptics, or Armenian Apostolics (not usually thought of as Middle Eastern), or a little of each, or something else? I’m just completely unfamiliar of what Middle Eastern Orthodox even entails. I have a hunch that term “Middle East” is a whole lot newer than this church’s history.

    • The church was founded as a Syrian Orthodox Church. The original stained glass from the sign hangs above the northern door. Apologies for leaving out that detail. I do believe that people that attend the church hail from a wide range of countries. The two members that are also store owners in the City Market are Jordanian.

  7. Paddy says:

    The new church is being built on the land of my childhood home.

    They tore down a historic dairy barn to make way for it.

    Very interesting to track the changes to an area that was nothing but farms and fields and a gravel pit when we first moved out there. We could play in the middle of 116th street and never worry about traffic.

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