GETAMEJ, Armenia—Social change is the popular theme of Armenia’s new generation, where society comes together in order to make much-needed changes in their communities. River Fest Armenia is just one small example of a movement which grew on the principles that the average working-class citizen, youth, and even villager can make a lasting impact in a neighborhood in need of a little help.
It started with a small network of musicians led by Saro Hassassian, a repatriate from Massachusetts and current jazz guitar student at the Komitas State Conservatory of Yerevan. As a resident of the village of Getamej, right on the outskirts of Yerevan, Saro couldn’t help but notice the obvious disparity between the conditions of the schools in Yerevan and those of a village. Wanting to make a difference, Saro organized the first River Fest Armenia.
“It was organized by a group of friends,” said founder Saro Hassassian. “And the turnout was amazing considering it being the first ever overnight music festival in Armenia.” In the years to follow, the audience grew by 40%, reaching numbers upwards of 1000 attendees including musicians, media, volunteers and audiences.
Inspired by Woodstock and Rock Aid Armenia, River Fest features more than 20 bands over the span of two days. All proceeds are used for a charitable cause; River Fest 2013: new chairs and tables for classrooms, River Fest 2014: 11 new Euro Windows for the school, River Fest 2015: plans to build a public playground in the village.
“The thing that I love the most about River Fest,” Hassassian said, “is the diverse audience. We’ve had young families with infants, elderly people, youth, and just people from all walks of life come to River Fest in order to have a great time while doing something good for the community.” The River Fest following includes but is not limited to rock lovers, music lovers in general, musicians, travelers, backpackers, volunteers, vacationers, bicyclists and more.
This year, River Fest will take place on August 15-16 in Getamej village. Tickets cost 5000 AMD, are only available pre-sale and will not be sold at the gates. You can find Tickets at Melrose, Irish Pub 26, The Venue, Ants, and ArtBridge Bookstore Café. This year’s lineup includes acts like 1243K, Dogma, Nairi, Palm of Granite, Elips, Windrose and more.