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20 years of the Lebanese Festival in El Cajon

20 years of the Lebanese Festival in El Cajon
Posted at 5:39 AM, May 27, 2024

EL CAJON (KGTV) — Every year on Memorial Day weekend, people gather in El Cajon to celebrate the Lebanese culture and heritage. The Lebanese festival has grown over the last twenty years and is now a huge three-day event for the Arab community in East County.

“We show them our background, where we come from, they’re proud of their heritage of their culture, everything,” said Eva Bseibes, one of the festival organizers.

Bseibes helped start the festival at St. Ephrem Maronite Catholic Church in El Cajon.

“It’s known everywhere," Bseibes said. "People come from California, we get people from Nevada, people from Arizona.”

Although the event continues to grow, some things stay the same. Like the traditional Lebanese performers and mouthwatering Lebanese foods like manouche and qatayef.

“This is our little Lebanon away from Lebanon,” said Gisele Chalhoub.

Millions of Lebanese have left the country after it’s civil war and now high inflation, but they often return with money to support Lebanon’s economy. Chalhoub sets up a booth at the festival to do exactly that.

“They need a lot of help," Chalhoub said. "This is nothing comparing to the amount of needs in Lebanon. But we’re doing the best we can.”

She sells items from Lebanese creators and sends the funds to local nonprofits. Because even thousands of miles away, you never forget where you came from.