artandculture chicago turkish festival

Things to do - weekend addition and interview with Consul General of Turkey

Friday, September 05, 2014 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend that is culturally relevant and unique, take some time to stop by Pioneer Court on the mag mile and take part in Chicago's Annual Turkish Festival. The festival is free and open to the public! The Turkish Festival will be one way to celebrate the diversity in our city this fall. You can indulge in Turkish flavors for two days in the heart of the city. Chicago will, once again, go Turkish for two days on September 5-6 at Pioneer Court for the 12th Annual Chicago Turkish Festival. The festivities will kick off at Pioneer Court (Michigan Ave. and Chicago River Bridge) with tents including, calligraphy, ceramics, gift tents, crystal, information, books, clothing, restaurants/cafés and many more.

This event is co-organized by the Consulate General of Turkey and we had the pleasure of talking with Consul General Fatih Yıldız about this event and what he does at the Consulate. He even gave us some insight on his career path. Read on below for the interview. 

1. Consul General, Fatih Yıldız, can you tell us a bit more about yourself, your career journey and what led you to assuming your position as Consul General here in Chicago?

Having studied international relations at the college in Turkey, I joined the foreign service back in 1994.  Prior to my four years in Chicago as the Consul General, I took up various diplomatic roles between 1994 and 2010 in other parts of the world, including Sarajevo, Vienna and Washington D.C.

I will soon hand over this duty to my successor and return to Ankara as the Head of Human Resources Department at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2. Have you faced any obstacles in your role, if so how have you overcome them?

This is my second term in the United States following my assignment in Washington, D.C. The same welcoming atmosphere that I experienced in the capital was also valid here in Chicago with a Midwestern flair.

3. What has been your proudest moment while in your role as Consul General of Turkey here in Chicago? 
I will always have fond memories of my tenure here in Chicago. Interacting with young Turkish American generations and witnessing their great potential for our common future, were some of my proudest moments here in Chicago.

4. Can you tell us more about what prompted the Turkish community to launch this event 12 years ago?

The Chicago Turkish Festival was initially planned as a cultural initiative to raise awareness about Turkey and its culture. Since then it has come a long away and turned into an annual tradition, which is being looked forward to by many Chicagoans.

5. What can patrons expect when they visit the festivities this weekend?

The festival will have live stage performances of vibrant folk dances and musical performances, a fashion show with Ottoman era flair, world famous Turkish cuisine and delicacies, arts and crafts exhibits. The guest city this year will be Izmir, and visitors will enjoy the hospitality and breathtaking sights of Izmir and one of the most historic regions of Turkey: Aegean Region, home to the world-famous, spectacular ruins of Ephesus. Festival visitors will have the opportunity to taste delicious grilled Turkish kebab and döner varieties; crunchy Turkish bagels “Simit,” best enjoyed with a cup of traditionally brewed Turkish tea; Turkish delights, best enjoyed with a cup of Turkish coffee from Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi; the legendary Mado orchid ice cream from Maras; and Happy Hour favorite Turkish Efes Beer.

6. Can you tell us more about the strength of the Turkish community in the Chicago land area?

Turkish community in the Chicagoland is one of the most vibrant Turkish communities in the States. The members of the community, not only actively engage in every aspect of daily life, but are also present in different professional environments starting with medicine, business and education, as integral parts of the larger Chicago community.

7. Can you share with us, some of the local Turkish artisans, brands and shops that we can find in Chicago and that will also be taking part in the festival?

In addition to this showcase of Turkish delicacies, other exotic indulgences will include:  fashion shows bringing the glorious allure of the Ottoman Empire to today’s catwalk, arts and crafts, Turkish carpets and kilims, festive folk dances, a mini concert series, exhibits by Turkish-American artists, demonstrations of paper marbling, illuminations and calligraphy, exclusive panoramic views of Istanbul, a photo exhibition and film screenings. Visitors will be able to shop for handmade arts and crafts from Aegean region, Kutahya ceramics, Cappadocia ceramics and pottery, Turkish rugs, throws, bags, decorative pillows, glassware, traditional jewelry, handicrafts, and more.

8. Can you tell us more about the Romani and Turkish Folk Dancers (and the dancers and choreographers) that will be performing at the festival?

Visitors will be able to enjoy live midday and evening shows of marching  Ottoman Military Band, memorable  Turkish Folk Dance  performances, Whirling Dervishes, and authentic  Turkish classical and folk music  concert;

9. Can you explain to our readers what the Consulate General of Turkey here in Chicago is and how it participates in the local community?

Consulate is the consular representation of the Republic of Turkey in Midwest, covering 13 states from its offices in Chicago. It not only strives to increase ties between Turkey and Midwest, but also partners with the Turkish American community in doing so, as in the case of this Festival.

10. Finally, where can we learn more about the consulate, the festival and keep up with the organizations over social media?

For further information please visit event site at or contact

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