Sunday, October 01, 2000

Visit to Turkey just short drive away


Festival highlights ancient civilization

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — What do tulips, St. Nicholas and apricots have in common? They all originated in Turkey, the geographic focus of this year's Middfest celebration.

        Saturday crowds gaped at a Trojan Horse, watched international entertainment, and listened to tall tales at the festival, which continues today.

IF YOU GO
  • What: Middfest International.
  • When: Noon to 8 p.m. today.
  • Where: City Building, City Plaza and City Centre Mall, Middletown.
  • Today's highlights: Food demonstrations, 1 p.m.; Turkish entertainment, 1:30-4 p.m.; Meerschaum carving, 2 p.m.; “That Trojan Horse!!” 1-3 p.m.; belly dancing, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Admission: Free, $5 voluntary donation.
  • Information: (513) 425-7707.
        Programs and exhibits underscore thousands of years of history and culture that influence modern-day Turkey, a country with one foot in Europe and one in Asia.

        In the City Centre Mall, representatives from Heritage Village Museum set up a simulated archaeological dig to show visitors how to unearth the past.

        “They're doing a lot with archaeological digs in Turkey right now,” said museum staffer Carrie MacMeans. She helped Sarah Jewell, 7, of West Chester brush off and log the small brown bottle she uncovered in her patch of ground.

        It was Christmas in September at the Youth Park, which spotlighted the legends surrounding a kindly 4th century bishop in the Turkish city of Myra. Children learned how tradition and advertising campaigns gradually transformed St. Nicholas into the jolly symbol of Christmas known as Santa Claus.

        Another tradition was observed in the canopied Coffee House, where visitors cautiously slurped thick Turkish brew. Those lucky enough to finish their coffee while a fortune teller was present could pour away the dregs to get a squint at their future.

        Russell Thompson of Cincinnati, who describes himself as a Turkophile, enjoyed a leisurely beverage with his family and with Charles Sarakatsannis of Newport. Mr. Sarakatsannis, whose parents came from Macedonia, is helping Mr. Thompson learn the Turkish language.

        “I was stationed in Ismir, Turkey, in the service,” Mr. Thompson explained. “I've always been interested in Turkish history.”

        Festival goers sampled other palate-pleasers at the Turkish food demonstrations Saturday afternoon and lined up for Iskender Kabab at T.J.'s Restaurant booth in the food court.

        “It has pita bread, beef, tomato sauce, sour cream and mint,” said Muharrem Ertur, a cousin of the restaurant owner.

        The exhibits of Turkish rugs, porcelains and metal work at Middfest earned the approval of Madhu Madhavan of West Chester, who brought his two children to the event.

        “There are a lot of misconceptions about Turkey,” said Mr. Madhavan, who has traveled several times to that country. “It's pretty modern.”

       



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- Visit to Turkey just short drive away