The Navasartian Games: A Family Tradition

navasartiankidsThe Navasartian Festival is a memorable and exciting annual event that really pushes for the connecting and bonding of the Armenian American population. For over 33 years now, the Navasartian Festival has been a part of the lives of all the Armenian’s in Southern California. Bridging together families, friends, and athletes and reaching across all generations to bring together the young and the old are only a taste of just how important this event is. It encourages our youth to participate in scouts and athletics. It teaches them healthy competition and draws people from all over to come together and interact with their equal counterparts. It is crucial, though, that we keep in mind that in order for such an affair to be successful, it takes a group of highly skilled and experienced individuals to create such a delightful occasion.

In the past the Homenetmen Western Region would be completely responsible for putting together all the festivities and games that make up the Navasartian. Since the event kept increasing in attendants, volunteers, athletes, scouts, members, etc., they decided it was time to put together a committee that would oversee the entire Navasartian Festivities. Then, in December, 2008 they appointed Mher Tavidian as the Committee’s Chairman for the 34th annual Navasartian Festival.

Having been a long time member of the Homenetmen Western Region and having previously overseen a Navasartian in the early 90’s, it only made sense that the Regional would have picked someone who had the capability to put together an exciting event. Immediately, Tavidian went to work on putting together an expert team to ensure nothing but sheer success of the Navasartian Festival. His choices included members who have coordinated similar events and/or who have expertise in the area they would be organizing.

With eleven members on board, it’s no wonder they even have the official title of being Navasartian Organizing Committee. Tavidian listed all the individuals on his committee and described what each individual would be working on starting with the treasurer, who is accountant Norayr Saghbazarian. The opening and closing ceremony will be done by Karine Avaness, who has been in charge of those events before, and the Victory Ball will be put together by long time member Cima Garabetian. Vahe Ohanessian is in charge of coordinating the festival, while Salpi Jejeian is in charge of the children’s activities, sponsor relations and advertising. They have Arpik Ananian in charge of the security and door control at the festival, Annie Kahwajian in charge of all the administrative work, and Ari Boyadjian is in charge of all the graphic design and also the webmaster for the new website. Sevag Garabetian will be the athletic liaison to the committee and Susie Ipekian-Minoyan will be in charge of all the entertainment. As you review this list, it really gives you a feel of all the different aspects that have to be covered to create a unified Navasartian success. Having put together a group of individuals that have known each other well throughout the years, it only made sense to do a special theme for this years’ festival and games. They decided that the thing people love most about this event is how it holds true to many established traditions, so it would only be fitting to call it “A Family Tradition”.

navasartiankarnig (Medium)
“Homenetmen is truly the definition of a family,” says Tavidian, “It is the only Armenian American Organization that has members who range from 5 to 85 year olds and they all respectfully call each other “yeghpayr” or “kour”. It is an organization that allows for the whole family to participate so that our children learn to embrace their culture and ethnicity and learn to keep family close.” This year the festival and closing ceremony will take place at Birmingham High School. There will be something for everyone in order to ensure their full participation. We all know that Karnig Sarkissian is a huge crowd enticer, so they arranged for him to sing on two of the festival days. But that’s not all; volunteers even contacted Tavidian via Facebook asking to volunteer the night Harout Pambukjian was playing. They are even holding tight to traditions through the food that will be at the festival, one of which is “soujoukh.” And, as usual, they will be having their most popular sporting events happening from July 2nd to July 5th, including basketball, tennis and chess.

navasartiantables (Medium)According to Tavidian, tradition didn’t mean holding back the evolution of change. Being in such a technologically advanced age, this year’s Navasartian has hit the internet by storm by creating a website that has allowed everyone to see all the schedules, history, volunteer sign up, festival itinerary, information about the musical artists scheduled to perform, and even the ability to purchase tickets for the event online. They have a traveler’s guide to those who are attending the festival from out of town. Along with the website, they also have a Facebook page that has about 500 members. Their ability to network during such a low economic wave shows how strong and dedicated they are as a team. And it was networking that led them to have such a huge list of sponsors, such as Carousel, Super King Market, and Mrs. Ashkhen Pilavjian. Sam Nazarian, owner of SBE and the famous Japanese restaurant Katsuya, approached Tavidian and said even though he wasn’t Armenian he would like to reach out to the Armenian community and be involved in funding for good organizations. Tavidian immediately began to tell him about his being part of the Homenetmen and his involvement in the Navasartian Festival and Games. Nazarian didn’t hesitate to pitch in and give the Navasartian Committee members an amazing kick-off party at his Glendale location. Along with Nazarian are Karoun Dairies, and Face Book Printing Inc. With an expected turnout of 30,000 to 35,000 attendee’s during the four day festival, including all volunteers, participants, entertainers, scouts, athletes and guests, it’s not surprising that sponsors would be necessar Falling in with the theme of “A Family Tradition,” even this year’s Regional Committee was approached by past presidents, to band together and honor the event, instead of appointing just one honorary president.

navasartiansoccer (Medium)Another great addition was taking a day and devoting it to kids onl On Saturday, July 4th, 2009 from 10am to 5pm will be all about the children. Everything from live music, games, face painting, great food and entertainment. Tavidian’s family will be actively involved in the festival and games as well. His daughter will be participating in athletics, while his nieces and cousins will be participating in the parade, and even his cousin plays drums in one of the bands. Let’s face it; the music at the Navasartian is most definitely the thing that draws so many community members to want to join in the festivities. With artists such as Karnig Sarkissian, Harout Pamboukjian, Nersik Ispirian, Joseph Krikorian, and Gor Mkhitarian it’s no wonder that people can’t get enough of the festival. This year they even decided to add bands that were more youth oriented, such as VISA, to attract even the young crowd who would be present.

Here we are, days away from the beautiful Navasartian Banquet on Saturday June 27th, 2009 at the CBS studios in Studio City, CA. Then on July 2nd, 2009 is the festivals kick-off, filled with food, fun and fireworks, so be sure to visit NavasartianGames.com to purchase your Banquet tickets and four day passes to the festival. Let’s show this hard working committee, led by a very dedicated leader, our support and thanks by being present and ensuring the success of an age old “Family Tradition.”

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Photo credit: Berj Djamdjian from the 2008 Navasartian Games and Festival.

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