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Assyrians host festival
Ceres area residents were offered an introduction to Mediterranean food and culture during the Sept. 8-9 5th annual Food Festival held at Saint Matthew Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church at 3005 Sixth Street (formerly the Ceres United Methodist Church.)

The festival ran 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days and offered free admission, raffle prizes, folkloric dances, live entertainment and a kids bounce house. The church sold Mediterranean foods, including kabobs, chicken kabobs, Shawerma, Tabouleh, Bourak, Dolma and pastries.

"It went fairly well," said fundraising organizer Albert Mulhim. "Probably the attendance wasn't as good as other years."

Mulhim suspects the economy curbed attendance but said the church didn't advertisement as much as in years past.

Entertainment was offered behind the church building under large tents. While dining on food, visitors enjoyed Mediterranean dancers as well as singing by Edward Esha of the Bay Area and Fayez Merza of Keyes and the Haroot Band.

Saint Matthew is part of the Chaldean Catholic Church's St. Peter Diocese based in San Diego. The diocese has 11 parishes in 19 states including California, Nevada and Arizona. Some of the festival attendance was drawn by sister churches in San Jose, Turlock and Sacramento.

St. Matthew has members in 150 local families, from mostly Stanislaus County, that meets at 10 a.m. Sundays.