GLENDALE—Attendees marveled as Armenian culture came alive during the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA’s 12th Annual Cultural & Food Festival held at the Glendale Civic Auditorium from May 4 to 5. Clad in orange t-shirts, ARS members once again assumed all tasks in the organization of this annual event, which attracts thousands of Armenians and non-Armenians alike.
The two-day festival program commenced with ARS school students singing the national anthems. One after another, singers and dance groups performed and provided entertainment for festival-goers. Saturday’s program was MC-ed by Arshalous Darpinyan, followed by ARS “Anahid” Chapter Chairperson Silva Poladian, who MC-ed Sunday’s program.
Beyond the thousands of spectators that gathered, this year’s event attracted visitors including His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, ARS Central Executive Chairperson Vicky Marashlian and Member Annie Kechichian; Congressman Adam Schiff’s Representative Mary Hovaguimian, Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian, Member of the Los Angeles County Commission for Women Alice Petrossian; Glendale Unified School District Board Members Nayiri Nahabedian and Dr. Armina Gharpetian; members of the Glendale Commission on the Status of Women Paula Devine and Vatche Tashdjian; representatives of St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church and sister organizations, among countless ARS and community members.
Invigorating performances by popular Armenian singers included Babin Boghossian, Antoine Bezdjian, Gevorg Chakmanyan, Gagik Badalyan, Ara Shahbazian, ARS member Varouhi Shahinian, Vako Nazar, Hayro Sarabian, sisters Roberta and Alla Arevian, and Argentinean singer Eduardo Diamonte. The Knar Band accompanied all performers.
Back-to-back performances by dance groups highlighted the talents of children and young adults. This year, Barekamutiun Int. Dance Studio, Cilicia Dance Group, Davigh Dance Studio, and soloists Gabriella Aghajanian and Gayane Abkaryan were featured. Dance lessons were also offered by Simon Euksuzian.
As in every year, the traditional Armenian wedding, re-enacted by the Vanush Khanamirian Dance School this year, proved to be a continued festival favorite. The merriment of such an occasion was felt by all in attendance, who watched the group’s procession while dressed in traditional Armenian costumes.
Proving to be a festival fun for people of all ages, a special section on the first floor of the auditorium was designated for children. Games were a major draw for youth, who visited different booths, manned by Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School student volunteers, and claimed prizes. A favorite amongst children was also the singer Maggie, who entertained youth with children’s songs.
Alongside cultural displays also on the first floor, lavash bread and string cheese making was demonstrated by ARS members Arsine Aposhian and Osanna Bekarian. Common among festivals, the food and pastries were also a major draw.
“This year, we were proud to have 9 major sponsors. Among these were Anoush Catering, Tazah, Specialty Car Craft Motor Group, Closet World, and Karoun Dairies,” explained Seta Tarpinian, Co-Chairperson of the ARS Regional Festival Committee. She added, “As always, we appreciate the generous support of our sponsors, whose contributions remain vital to carrying out such a large community event.”
The festival drew to an end on Sunday, May 5th at 7 p.m. and surely left fond memories among all its participants.
The ARS of Western USA, established in 1984 and with regional headquarters in Glendale, CA, has 27 chapters and more than 1,500 members in five western states. The ARS-WUSA operates a Social Services Division, a Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, and funds numerous youth programs, scholarships and relief efforts.