HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The 37th annual Lebanese Food Festival returns starting tomorrow at Saint Anthony Church.

Set up is currently underway and the festival will be returning after being canceled in back-to-back years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, organizers hosted more than 40,000 visitors. This year, hundreds of volunteers and parishioners will be assisting in offering delicious food, music and a lot of fun.

“We are truly thrilled to have our family back and to cook a meal for them,” said Sandra Joseph Brown, who is one of the volunteers. “RVA has embraced us, they are our family. When we have our guests come for dinner, we mean they come for dinner. We are now seeing second and third generations of families who are coming out here because they came out here as babies in strollers.”

Food preparation for the festival started back in February. Volunteers made 40,000 pies in several different flavors. Attendees will be able to choose from a selection of meat, cheese, spinach and feta and spinach. Volunteers also hand-rolled grape leaves. These were the only two dishes that were made in advance.

“We snip the stem off of it first, then we roll it with our mixture and then we bake it,” said Joseph Brown.

The remainder of the items will be handmade just hours before the festival begins. People will also have the opportunity to buy frozen meals to take home.

According to Joseph Brown, the beer and wine that will be served are from Lebanon and were ordered in September. Fortunately, they arrived on time and were delivered on April 18.

The festival started in the early 80s with the International Food Festival, which used to be held at the Richmond Coliseum. The parishioners at Saint Anthony represented Lebanon and served Lebanese food. They bought their property, started to cook and invite friends over, then started to charge for the dishes.

Saint Anthony is over 100 years old. Organizers said they’re blessed that their annual tradition is returning.

There will be a playground for children and the festival is expecting performances from five dance troupes.

For the first time ever, visitors will be able to purchase credit punch cards to use within the booth. There will be free parking and a free shuttle.

Festival Hours:

  • Friday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Sunday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Organizers advise attendees to bring chairs with them.