GLENDALE–The first weekend of May is reserved for the Armenian Relief Society–Western Regions Armenian Festival, now in its sixth year, which takes place in the Glendale Civic Auditorium. This two-day event draws large numbers of Armenia’s and non-Armenia’s alike, and contributes to the revival of the Armenian culture and spirit. This year, the opening ceremony in the Civic Auditorium took place on Saturday May 5, in front of a capacity crowd. The Crescenta Valley Homenetmen’scouts led the flag salute. The American, Armenian, and ARS anthems were sung by a combined chorus of ARS Saturday School students under the baton of conductor Alfred Mardoyan. The program was emceed by well-known TV personality, Arshik Darbinian. In her opening remarks, she referred to the rich history of the of the ARS, emphasizing the significant role it played in serving the social and cultural needs of the Armenia’s throughout the Diaspora since 1910. The list of honored guests included: Western Prelate. Archbishop Mushegh Mardirossian and Rev Viken Vassilian, pastor of the Hollywood St. Garabed Church, vice-consul of Armenia Harutune Gochoyan, Congressman Adam Schiff and his field representative Haig Kartounian, State Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, ARS Central Executive member Nova Hindoyan, ARF Central Committee member John Kossakian, Glendale Community College President Dr. Armine Hacopian, Glendale Unified School Board chairman Greg Krikorian and GUSD Board Member Nairy Nahabedian. Archbishop Mardirossian gave his blessing and recognized the outstanding work the organizing of this festival entails. I stand before you once again, to congratulate the ARS-WR executive and its army of volunteers. God bless you all for the wonderful work that you continue to do, to glorify the Armenian culture; to promote the Armenian song, the Armenian dance, the Armenian cuisine to this region, so that not only in this community, but world wide, it be known that wherever there are Armenia’s, there are builders, and wherever there are Armenia’s, you have enlightenment and progress; Armenia’s everywhere glorify their culture and nurture it, concluded the surpazan. Sonia Peltekian, ARS-WR chair, welcomed those present and recited the first verse of the ARS anthem, and with that declared the opening of the Festival. We bring you the golden heart of our members, yes, that is true, our dedicated volunteers, who sacrificed for the Armenian Cause, maintaining language, culture and humanitarian mission, she added. ARS with unwavering sacrifice and dedication, for nearly a century has been able to surmount untold difficulties. We shall continue doing so for another century yet, underlined our chairperson. She thanked specifically the festival organizing committee and its chairperson, Emma Garabedian, ARS-WR liaison Seta Khojayan, Satenig Nalbandian, Shushig Aslanian and all those whose helped unconditionally and contributed to the success of this festival. Peltekian concluded by thanking Dr. David Davtyan with a plaque for his generous contribution and a plaque to Mr. and Mrs. Antranig Baghdassarian for their continued support and assistance to the festival. The ongoing program included the Hamzkayin, Lori, Nayiri and Ani dance groups, as well as the dance ensembles of Ara, Ani, Alex, Erebuni, Groung and Lillian. They enhanced this joyous celebration of the Armenian spirit. Dance masters Simon Eoksuzian and Saro Asadourian provided Armenian dance lessons to the public. Armenian costumes were modeled, as well as scenes from a traditional Armenian wedding were presented, which was a creation by dance master Saro Asadourian. The costumes had been prepared by Shake Apelian from ARS Talin chapter. The Armenian dhol and zurna rang out again! The festival included special programs for children. Singer Ani Hovagimian performed with the Sossi childrens dance group and the participation of local artists. On Saturday, May 5, the singers were, Hratch Bogharian, Anna Armenagyan, Ara Saghbazian, Arman, Lucine Mkrtumyan, Grigor Boyadjian and Antoine Bezdjian; and on Sunday, May 6, Nersig Isbirian, Antoine Bezdjian, Sokrat Martinyan and Paul Baghdadlian. The weekend was literally filled out with tasty Armenian food and pastries, prepared by our ARS members. Ovsanna Bekerian and Arsine Aposhian demonstrated the preparation of Armenian lavash bread and Armenian string cheese. Diruhi Kupelian made grape leaf sarmas. In a craft exhibition Kupelian presented handiwork from Kharpert. On the main floor and the basement were numerous booths where many items were available for purchase. Song and dance was constant, with the dance floor never empty of participants. On Sunday, during final momen’s of the festival, ARS members wearing their blue volunteer tee shirts and excited with the success of the festival, forgot their exhaustion and joined in a round of dances to the cheers of many. The message was clear. The Armenian Relief Society had succeeded in her mission.