GLENDALE—In its 10th straight year, the Annual Armenian Cultural & Food Festival, organized by the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, brought together crowds from near and far to the Glendale Civic Auditorium on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1.
The event, which attracts more and more festival-goers with each passing year, not only allowed attendees to explore Armenian culture through special foods, live music, dance performances, and exhibits, but was also a meeting-ground for families and friends to reunite and share in the experience of this thriving event.
Kicking-off with an opening ceremony, Master of Ceremonies Arshalous Darbinyan conveyed welcoming remarks, which was followed by a flag ceremony by Homenetmen Scouts and the singing of anthems by soloist Anahid Nersisyan. Arousyak Melkonian, Chairperson of the ARS Regional Executive Board, delivered remarks, stating “For 10 years, we have seen how our festival unites our community and, at the same time, allows for the richness and uniqueness of our culture to beam.”
Offering his blessings, Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian expressed, “Through this and other events, the ARS revitalizes our national identity by preserving and promoting our centuries’ old traditions handed down from generation to generation. With this festival, our community and the community at large are offered the opportunity to celebrate our unique traditions and, most importantly, our youth is more closely familiarized with our customs, thus, ensuring that our history and culture will continue to thrive…”
In appreciation of the generosity of sponsors, including individuals, fellow non-profits, small and large businesses, and medical centers, who have generously shown their supports towards the annual event and the ARS year after year, commendations were presented. Also, marking the 10th anniversary of the festival, a special cake-cutting ceremony was held with participation of the Prelate, ARF Bureau Member Dr. Vicken Hovsepian, ARS Central Executive Chairperson Vicky Marashlian and Board Member Nova Hindoyan, and festival committee members.
From the moment doors opened to the public until the festival’s closing, attractions for people of all ages to enjoy entertained guests, occupying both levels of the venue. The lower level offered an intriguing line-up of cultural exhibits, which took onlookers back in time and featured old-world displays of artwork, traditional garb of regions such as Kharpert, Lori, Drabizon, and more, as well as a “lavash”-making demonstration. Armenian compatriotic unions, such as the
Union of New Julfa, presented traditional pieces dating back decades. Even meeting the needs of eager, young children, a section was solely dedicated to children’s games and activities.
The upper level, filled with appetizing aromas, was the scene where renowned Armenian singers, including Harout Pamboukjian and Gagik Badalyan, as well as many folk dance groups, took to the stage with back-to-back performances. A main attraction, the re-creation of a traditional Armenian wedding, was a hit similar to years past, whereby a group of 30 people dressed in authentic costumes accompany the bride and groom into the hall while lively Armenian music plays.
The weekend-long event was a celebration of culture in every way possible and will surely be long-remembered by its attendees.
Proceeds from the festival support the ARS of Western USA’s various programs benefiting the needy, youth, and elderly; social and counseling services; tuition assistance; scholarships; kindergartens; youth centers; Saturday Schools and after-school programs.