St. Mark's Annual Egyptian Festival prides itself in being one of the few outdoor festivals in the area. The majority of the menu is cooked and assembled outdoors. Festival guests enjoy their delicious Egyptian foods sitting under shade of the outdoor tents, listening to Egyptian music, drinking tasty fresh fruit smoothies, and watching children play at the inflatable play stations.
The indoor section of the festival is where unique souvenirs, traditional desserts, and freshly brewed coffee and tea are available. The bookstore offers a great collection of books, gifts and Coptic icons. The small Egyptian grocery sells fresh pitas, spices, and more. With games, food, fun, and friends, the Egyptian Festival has become one of the major blessings of our church and community, as it offers something special for each person.
The St. Mark's Annual Egyptian Festival was introduced 25 years ago by three women of St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church in Parma. So'ad Mansour, Layla Rizk, and Suzy Maher, enjoyed attending the festivals at the Greek Orthodox Churches in the Cleveland area. Inspired by the concept, the ladies decided to start an Egyptian festival, and the idea was welcomed by the clergy and members.
The date to celebrate the Egyptian Festival was set as the weekend in August following the feast of St. Mary. The first Egyptian festival was celebrated in the basement of St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church on Ridge road, in August of 1987. Though small in its beginnings, the festival was a great success and became a remarkable fund raising event.
The Church congregation was increasing steadily, the need for a bigger church building was pressing. Once the new church building in Seven Hills was completed, in 1988, the festival was to be celebrated mostly outdoors ever since.
Even 25 years later, the Egyptian Festival we celebrate continues to be the largest fundraising event of our church. It is 100% funded through donations, and the volunteer work of the church's own members.
Today, Layla Rizk, the festival coordinator since 2000, and her team of around 80 volunteers start meeting early spring each year to plan and prepare for the festival. Engineer Adly Danial, with a team of 7-8 technical support volunteers, is in charge of all technical support work needed for the festival, from beginning to end.