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Resounding Success of The Thirteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival, April 12-15, 2007

Contributed by Artas Folklore Center on 06.04.2012:

By Leyla Zuaiter

An estimated 5000 Palestinians and foreign visitors converged on the village of Artas just south of Bethlehem for the Thirteenth Annual Artas Lettuce Festival. Milling around the village for hours before the official opening, the throngs made their way past the newly acquired goat-haired tent, where some of them would later sit and listen to the rababa, then down a narrow path where the soothing music of the water the ancient water channels on the side accompanied them to the fertile Artas Valley. There they found the recently-purchased stage set up against the dramatic backdrop of the hills beyond. But many found that they were too late to find a seat. From Jenin, Nablus, Qalqiliya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jericho, Hebron; from the towns, villages and refugee camps, individually and in delegations, young and old, they came as participants or spectators, to take part in or witness the performances competitions, exhibits, hikes, games, tree-plantings and other activities, and to try the famous lettuce. And it was not only Palestinians either—a large number of foreigners attended as well: groups from France, England and Germany and the United States, and sprinklings of Turks, Scots, Dutch, Norwegians, and Brazilians. Some of these were accidental tourists, such as the Easton Cowboys, a British social club whose visit to Palestine to play soccer was crowned by a two days and a night in Artas, where they enjoyed Artas hospitality and helped in festival preparations, or the German members of the Action Theater, who accompanied Ashtar Theater. Amongst the crowd could spotted representatives of the press such as Al Quds, Al Ayam, Palestine Times, Al Jazira, Dubai Now, as well as members of media from Finland, France and Turkey. And then there were the children, who came to watch the puppet shows and participate in games and relay races and maybe even come away with a prize.

The crowds are long gone, the last lettuce leaf swept away, the field that held the stage is being prepared for sowing, the articles have been written, and reports measuring inputs and impacts remain to be written. But for a moment—just a moment– let us make our measures in the rapt silence of children during performances, and the breadth of a farmer’s smiles. Let us celebrate! For against almost impossible odds, the Artas Folklore Center has survived another year, to carry on its mission of documenting, preserving and passing on Palestinian heritage to new generations of Palestinians and foreigners.

The Artas Folklore was sponsored by Mr. Bassam Salhi, Minister of Culture. The Ministry of Culture also contributed funds as did the French Consulate the Swiss Development Cooperation, the Danish Consulate and the Jerusalem District Electricity Company. To them and to all of the other sponsors and supporters, participating organizations, volunteers and festival attendees, we give our heartfelt thanks.

All the images on the poster were taken by founder James Prineas at last year’s festival. We sure missed him and his camera this year.

See following photo-essay and previous “The Thirteenth Annual Lettuce Festival in a Lettuce Leaf” for more ways to explore the festival.

Be sure to look at the festival guide to understand the significance of the festival and more about the offerings:

Check out the Artas Folklore Center Sub-site at by navigating from “Our Partners” at left and selecting “Artas Folklore Center.”

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