[EDITOR'S NOTE:This article was featured in the September 2012 print edition of the Chameleon. In the print edition, the article says it was written by Elcin Ozbay, one of the Chameleon copy editors. The article was actually written by Jill Kreider, one of the Chameleon staff writers, as listed below. The Chameleon regrets the error.]
By Jill Kreider
Chameleon Staff Writer
Just a few streets over from the Red Line stop at Lake lies Daley Plaza, home to the 10th annual Chicago Turkish Festival, which took place from September 9-12.
Truth be told, I know very little about Turkish culture, so I was not quite sure what to expect as I walked up to the plaza.
The entrance of the festival was an arch designed in a traditional style called “Safranbolu,” named after the Turkish town it originated in.
The Turkish, American and Chicago flags flew high above the festival, near the Picasso statue, as well as on the entrance arch, welcoming everyone.
Although the festival had just barely opened, people were already milling around, looking at the rugs and jewelry or waiting in line to buy a much-needed boost of caffeine in the form of Turkish coffee.
Food vendors were already busy cooking away kabobs and other Turkish food whose names I had ceased trying to pronounce for the vendors sake, as well as my own.
For those who ordered a drink or food, short metal and wooden tables were set up on the west side of the plaza, near the food booths. The tops were made of metal and intricately carved with geometric designs commonly found in Islamic art: loops and circles interwoven with angles and curls that were fascinating to look at. They seemed old, and sitting on the stools, gave you a feeling that these were all hand-made with care and precision.
The artistry involved in all the crafts and products that were being sold at the festival was apparent.
Fine china plates were delicately painted in a multitude of colors while the clothes shined with dozens of hand-placed jewels.
The dedication it takes to create each individual piece is fascinating, and speaks to a real connection and appreciation of the Turkish culture. Their hard work and dedication is almost as impressive as the works of art they create.
As an American whose only experience with culture consisted of baseball, hot dogs and fireworks, it was a breath taking sight.
Turkey is home to some of the oldest cultures of the world, and according to a sign at one of the booths, it is also called “The Land of Civilizations,” appropriately named as dozens of the world’s oldest settlements have been found there, some dating back before the 18th century BC.
The richness of the culture is reflected upon all that could be found at the festival, which represents only a small sample of Turkey’s entire civilization and culture.
The annual festival is a great way to be gently introduced to an old and historically significant culture that has survived for millennia.
To contact Jill Kreider, email her at email@example.com.