DEARBORN — The Ramadan Suhoor Festival is coming to Dearborn’s Fairlane Town Center beginning Friday, April 8, with a slate of dozens of vendors, after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The festival will take place April 8-April 30, Friday and Saturday only, between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. at the Sears parking lot.
Having first started as a small pop-up event to then gaining international attention while attracting thousands of visitors in Dearborn Heights in 2019, the festival was slated to come to the site in Dearborn in 2020 before the two-year pandemic break.
That attention came from its unique character of giving thousands of Muslims from the area and beyond a chance to enjoy unique food vendors and more late at night before beginning their fasts. The festival has of course always been open and inclusive to anyone wanting to partake in the celebration and has attracted many curious visitors from the surrounding area who simply want to enjoy good food and atmosphere.
In years past, visitors have come from all over the country, and Canada, to enjoy the activities; and this year the organizers are expecting a similar response and more, with some 10,000 visitors expected each night.
“Fairlane offers a huge parking lot, so it’s about the space the site offers,” festival organizer Hassan Chami told The Arab American News. “It’s also about supporting the new government in Dearborn, with Abdullah Hammoud leading as mayor. We want to support this new era in Dearborn.”
Chami said Hammoud and his chief of staff, Zeinab Hussein, were incredibly supportive of the festival’s efforts, connecting Chami with the appropriate departments directly to plan and organize the event at the site.
“It’s been a very smooth process, we have communicated on a daily basis,” Chami said. “Myself and the police and fire departments as well as directors like Tim Hawkins have worked to create a smooth process for the vendors to go in and get their background checks done, get their licensing.”
Photos: The Fairlane Town Center Sears parking lot site is prepared for the 2022 Ramadan Suhoor Festival’s first night on April 8. Photo: Imad Mohamad/The Arab American News
We have amazing food trucks coming into Dearborn; and though a majority of our vendors are from Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, we also have people that are connected to our community that have businesses outside of our area that support our community. – Hassan Chami, Ramadan Suhoor Festival
He said the administration has made it clear how important the festival is to the city, and that the city’s fire and police departments have gone above and beyond in helping organize the event.
“We’re thrilled about bringing the Suhoor Festival to Dearborn and showcasing the ingenuity of our culinary community and the timeless feel of Ramadan nights,” Hammoud told The Arab American News. “By drawing people from all walks of life to Fairlane, the geographic heart of our city, we hope to honor the Ramadan spirit of togetherness, hospitality and gratitude for our shared blessings. We also hope this location provides for safer, more accessible festivities for residents and visitors.”
This year, visitors can expect 54 vendors, 10 of them selling non-food merchandise. The food vendors are split between entrees, dessert and specialty drinks. About a dozen of the vendors will be actual food trucks.
“We have amazing food trucks coming into Dearborn; and though a majority of our vendors are from Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, we also have people that are connected to our community that have businesses outside of our area that support our community, like Sami from Sami’s Fattoush Grill from Clinton Township,” Chami said.
The Dearborn area is home to independent food and merchandise entrepreneurs specializing in popups and food trucks, especially during Ramadan. The festival provides a space to bring that cottage industry together to a well organized and safe space for visitors to enjoy their offerings and infusing the Islamic spirit of Ramadan into the event.
It also seeks to provide connected businesses from outside of the Dearborn area a space to showcase their wares.
Among the merchandise vendors are 3ONE3, a religious clothing brand from Toronto, Nominal jewelry from Arizona and more.
The festival will charge a $1 entry fee and the entirety of the funds raised from that cover charge will be donated to charity. The cover charge also allows the festival to enforce a code of conduct, which will be posted for visitors at entry, in line with the event’s Islamic and family-oriented spirit.
The festival’s organizers have planned to keep that Islamic spirit strong and intact this year for visitors young and old, though anyone is welcome to enjoy the festivities with their Muslim neighbors.
Quran recitations will take place at midnight every night, a nasheed (Islamic a cappella) group will do an event on stage towards the end of the month and during the third weekend, the festival will close for a night for the Martyrdom Anniversary of Imam Ali and the Ramadan Night of Power.
This year, organizers have also set up the first Annual Ramadan Suhoor Festival Scholarship in partnership with The Family Doc Clinic and Urgent Care, Allergy & Asthma Clinic, Westborn Car Wash and Vertivi. For more information, visit ramadansuhoorfest.com or ramadansuhoorfestival on Instagram.
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