Where to start with this festival?
Do you head straight to the food, as so many were doing Saturday afternoon? Do you stop and admire the art and photos of classic Persian architecture just inside the entrance? Or do you go to the performance area, where you can learn traditional Persian dances or smoke hookah nearby?
Wherever you go at the 14th annual Mehregan festival in Irvine, there's something to admire and learn about a culture that many visitors said is misrepresented by the media and overshadowed by the hard-line politics of today's Iranian leaders.
"With our lunatic president people think we're all like this," said Yassmin Manauchehri of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"This is truly as close as possible to what the culture stands for," said Anoosheh Oskouian, a board member of the Network of Iranian American Professionals of Orange County. "It's like the Oktoberfest of other cultures, celebrating autumn."