Turkish Heritage Month goes live in Washington DC with festival launch
With Turkish flags flying overhead, rows of vendors selling crafts, and Turkish dancers and musicians performing at the end of a pier in Washington DC, for one day the Potomac River looked a lot like the coast of Anatolia.
The theme for this year’s festivities - which kicked off with a festival on Sunday and will continue throughout October - is the Aegean Sea, a nod to one of Turkey's most popular areas.
After sitting out last year’s live events (and going online instead) due to the Covid pandemic, this year's festival, which launches the ninth annual Turkish Heritage Month, was something of a comeback.
"It's a little emotional," Aysem Furtun, a jeweller, told The New Arab. "It's good to see a lot of Turkish people. I missed the atmosphere. I feel like I'm in Turkey right now."
Ninth annual Turkish heritage month kicks off in Washington https://t.co/F0W6XJazcE— Lawrence Cenk Laws (@llaws) September 24, 2021
An estimated 20,000 people attended throughout the day, watching performances of folk dancers, belly dancers, and singers, buying street food, and shopping for traditional crafts, which took place on three piers.
It was a first at the wharf with previous years' festivals held at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue and the organisers hope to hold it here in the future.
"It's better here. All of the vendors are selling more," Sitki Kanzanci, president of the American Turkish Association of Washington, DC, told The New Arab.
Selling merchandise is important for many Turkish-American craftspeople, as the pandemic has affected their ability to reach customers. Altan Erginkoc, a project manager said he was using his stall to help promote the work of Turkish artisans whose business has been affected by the pandemic.
"People are looking for authentic stuff, but because of Covid they can't travel," Erginkoc told The New Arab.
Turkish Heritage Month will continue with events throughout October, including functions focused on film, food, and art.