American Forces Press Service
July 31, 2008 - The citizens of Seddah, Iraq, held the city's first arts festival since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team attended the festival, which was titled "Seddah's Happiness," in the Seddah City Park.
"During Saddam's time, we were not allowed to conduct such festivals," Seddah Mayor Ali said. "The only festivals were religious. Since the liberation of Iraq, the security situation was not safe enough to conduct any festivals. [The 4th BCT soldiers] have made our area safe, and this is the reason we were able to hold this festival."
The festival, which concluded July 26, lasted for six nights and included puppet shows, skits, painting, sculpting, literature reading, photography and a theatrical play with actors from Iskandariyah. Food stands and vendors were available, and local painters, sculptors, photographers and poets displayed their work.
"As we walked around, we were able to meet some of the artists," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Williams, a 4th BCT platoon sergeant. "They were all very willing and proud to show off their work."
The event showed that the people of Seddah feel they live in a safe and secure area, Williams said. The event was resourced, financed and run by the people of Seddah. International Relief and Development, some nongovernment organizations and local artists also contributed to the festival.
"It was an honor to be invited to attend the play, and the people were able to see the strong bond between coalition forces and the people of Seddah," Williams said. "We feel this shows how far Seddah has come in the last nine months and how self-sufficient the city council has become in Seddah."
(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)