St. Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church

The fourth annual Egyptian Food Festival returns this weekend in Nashua to raise money for the ongoing restoration of the St. Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church.

Celebrating its extensive history and newly renovated house of worship, a Nashua church will be opening its doors for a three-day festival starting Friday, Sept. 17.

The fourth annual Egyptian Food Festival will kick off Friday at the St. Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church. The three-day festival is designed to gather city residents, celebrate Nashua’s different cultures and faith and provide tours of the historic church building, according to Rev. Kyrillos Gobran.

“Our hope is that the entire neighborhood, really everybody, will come and stop by. It is an opportunity for us to introduce who we are,” said Gobran.

“Many people have ties to this church, as they grew up here, married here or have grandparents who used to take them here. People can come and see that we are still an active church.”

The house of worship at 39 Chandler St. is a landmark building that was constructed in 1895 and formerly housed St. Francis of Xavier Church. In 2017, the church building was listed on the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places, and the Land Community Heritage and Investment Program provided the church with a $390,000 state grant to help with its preservation efforts.

In 2016, it was selected as part of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance’s Seven to Save buildings, a program designed to save threatened landmarks. Extensive renovations have been underway to restore the exterior facade of the historic building, according to Gobran.

“All three exterior towers have been fixed. We are very excited about the progress. We have been working on this project for the past three years,” he said.

The stained glass at the rear of the church has been restored and cracked marble on the exterior of the building has also been repaired.

Although the food festival will take place outside in the church parking lot, tours of the inside of the church will be available for residents, said Gobran.

“It has been two years since our last food festival and we are missing everyone. We are happy to be back,” he added.

Food is the ideal way of gathering people together, according to Gobran, who said falafel, kabobs, lentils, rice, pasta and desserts will be on hand, as well as several vegetarian options.

Music, games, face-painting, balloons, souvenirs, Egyptian fabrics and more will be available at the festivities.

The three day festival will take place this weekend from 4-9 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The event will be held rain or shine. All proceeds from the festival will be used to help with the ongoing renovations to the church facility.

Gobran said the past several festivals have been a success as the church welcomes the community into its home and invites the public to get to know its parishioners and its beliefs.