The festival was started by a small community group called the Turkish American Recreational and Cultural Organization (TURCO), in 2003. The first event took place in Cabin John Park in Maryland and attracted close to a thousand people. In 2004, the Festival was relocated to the Freedom Plaza in DC and became an instant success, attracting thousands of people, a testament to the community’s deep interest in Turkish culture and history. However, TURCO was an informal group of dedicated volunteers, not an organization with the means to produce the event each year. Therefore, in 2005, ATA-DC took over as the host and champion of the Festival. Over the following years the Festival has become the premier event for the Association and a much anticipated tradition for Washingtonians. Since 2008, the festival has hosted more than 20,000 visitors every year.
The Turkish Festival is a community event. It is organized, delivered, and financed by the Turkish American community and businesses in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. Each year, ATA-DC’s Festival Committee works hard to develop a more attractive event so as to increase the number of visitors and thus, to more fully accomplish our event’s mission. Over the years, these efforts have paid off, and we now have more artists, more food vendors, and more retail vendors than in previous years. In 2009, for the first time ever, the Festival received a grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
As we are preparing for the 15th Annual Washington, DC Turkish Festival, we are proud that this exciting, colorful, and rich event has become a DC tradition that contributes to the city’s ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.