by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lake Oswego residents Mamak and Bahram Behboodi recently hosted a fundraising dinner for Andisheh Center, to celebrate the diversity and richness of Iranian heritage. They served traditional Persian dishes and adorned their gazebo with Persian rugs and pillows.

The Andisheh Center of Portland extends a welcome to the community to attend its cultural festival this weekend. This is an opportunity to experience firsthand the food, art and music of Iran.

The Andisheh Center is a community organization that aims to be the most reliable and influential center for connecting Iranian and non-Iranian Americans to the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Iran. It will host the 15th annual Iranian Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2, in downtown Portland’s South Park Blocks, on Southwest Park between Southwest Market and Jackson streets on the Portland State University campus.

The festival is co-sponsored by PSU’s Middle East Studies Center.

Attendees will experience live Persian music, traditional foods and beverages, live dance performances, traditional arts and crafts and activities for the whole family. Persian rugs and other colorful art will be on display.

“The event is a beautiful opportunity for Iranian friends to come together as a community, and to offer up a piece of heritage to share with our loved ones and friends,” said Ano Youssefian, one of the organizers of the event. “It will feature traditional outfits, live music and dance, and arts and crafts.”

Youssefian said attendees were encouraged to wear their traditional Iranian outfits and can submit video performances in advance of the festival to take part in the “Iran’s Got Talent” competition. Selected submissions will be aired at the festival. Visit for details.

Earlier this month, a fundraising dinner to support the festival was held at the Lake Oswego home of Mamak and Bahram Behboodi. The dinner was a celebration of the diversity and richness of Iranian heritage.

“As the doors opened, guests were greeted with the amazing aromas of Persian foods — saffron, rosewater and turmeric,” Youssefian said. She said entering the home was like stepping back into her homeland. “It was a feast for the eyes. The gardens were manicured to perfection and the gazebo had a settee draped with Persian rugs. It was the most beautiful and elegant event.”

She said Bahram Behboodi had spent many days preparing traditional Persian foods for the 60 guests. The dishes were filled with color: green pistachios, red currants and yellow saffron.

“It was the finest food and looked like jewels on the plate,” she said. “I felt I had traveled overseas to Iran.”

More than $8,000 was raised at the event, which will be used to pay for festival expenses.

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