Last month was the 11th Annual Mehregan Festival in Orange County organized by Network of Iranian-American Professionals of Orange County (NIPOC). Since my friends and I had heard so much about this Huge Iranian gathering from several different sources, we decided to go and check it out for ourselves.
We rented a car from San Jose Airport and jammed all five of us in a Sedan and headed to Orange County on Friday night. Due to everyone's schedules we didn't actually get of town until about 11pm. After several stops for liquid and food purposes we arrived at our hotel at 5am. In a way this was good since we avoided a lot of traffic, but it was hard on the three drivers one of which slept the whole way down! At 9am on Saturday morning (Sept. 9th, 2006) we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to the Orange County Fairgrounds so that we wouldn't miss a thing.
We started getting excited when we saw all the signs for the festival from when we got off the freeway. I started snapping pictures almost immediately. I wanted to capture all the excitement for everyone else who wasn't fortunate enough to make it to this event. Once we paid for our tickets and stepped inside, we were greeted by the beautiful decorations signifying the Persian Festival of Mehregan. There were make shift versions of the Persepolis ruins, the Cyrus' Declaration of Human Rights, and the tomb of Cyrus the Great
There were booths representing all the different provinces in Iran and the different tribes. You could walk in and learn about the costumes, foods, traditions, etc of each province. I have to say that the Kurdish booth was the most exciting since there were so many Kurds there with their costumes on and teaching people the steps in their dances. There was an area where different artists had their art for display and sale. Inside the exhibition hall were all the different merchants, publications, professional services, advertising their products and talents. There were four different stages for music and dance performances. It was really hard to try to see everything.
Although I tried, thanks to comfortable shoes so I can run from one stage to another, but I know that I definitely missed a lot. There was one performance area where it was mainly for kids with several tents catering only to the little ones or the playful adults! One stage had more traditional music and or more oldies style music; the seating at this stage was really nostalgic too since it was set up with beds and rugs over them just like “Darakeh” or other similar fun places.
The MC at this one was hilarious since in between performances he would tell jokes, making fun of almost all the different people of Iran; he would take requests from the audience as to which people to make fun of. At the stage that was more in the center of the park, there was mostly dance performances. The main concert stage didn't start till almost sun down and it showcased the newer musicians and pop groups. There was also a tent that was set up like a night club where old and young were dancing to the newest Persian Hits.
Lastly there was the food, you could almost get anything your heart desired. Unfortunately I didn't eat much because I was afraid that I would miss something. But I did see the corn on the Cobs, Aash, Kabobs, rose water ice creams, etc being devoured by people around me; thanks to our taarof tradition; I did sample a few things while on the go.
Most of the photos I took are self-explanatory, but if you have any questions, please email me and I would be more than happy to explain!
I had a great time, and I hope to be able to go to this festival every year. When we got back to our hotel, I passed out from exhaustion and then we headed back home the next day; throught the fires on Highway 5. For anyone planning to go next year, I recommend that you plan to go both days, so you can relax and have ample time to take everything in. For those of you who live outside of Southern California, I hope from these photos you get a taste of what it is like to be there.
I just want to say Khasteh Nabashin to the NIPOC organizers and Volunteers. Thank you for such a fun and informative event