By Valerie Dilanian-Simonian
MONTEBELLO—It was an amazing day at the 2nd Annual Armenian Food Fair and Festival that was held on Saturday, June 6, 2009 at the Holy Cross Cathedral grounds in Montebello. More than 3,000 people returned for our 2nd Annual event and enjoyed an unforgettable day of food, shopping and fun.
Volunteers worked tirelessly all day, preparing old-time favorites that included a choice of tender marinated lamb, pork, chicken or beef kebab or lule kebab grilled to perfection served with rice pilaf, Shepherd salad, turshi and lavash bread. Mezza’s such as Sarma, Hummus, Kufta, Falafel, hot crisp Cheese Boreg, Piroshki and the tastiest Armenian pastries including Pirog, Baklava, Nazook, Finger Cookies and Shakar Lokoom were also available to purchase. The 1,000 Piroshki prepared from scratch by Manik Ajemian, were simply divine.
Entertainment by local dance groups outdid themselves, featuring, the ARS Nairy Chapter Saturday School Students Dance Performance, Armenian Line Dances taught by Simon Oksazian, Alex Dance Studio Performance and Henrik Avoian & his Armenian Folkloric Musicians. The crowd enjoyed the beautiful professional performances and appreciated the rich Armenian heritage, culture and traditions. The Hosharian Bros Band provided spectacular Armenian music through the evening. At sunset, a drum circle of talented dumbeg players gathered together. Some that joined included Stepan Altounian, Armen Bagdasarian, Johnny Keuroghlian, Mayis Medadlian, Jake Hagopian, Harry Kazarian, Missak Tokhmanian, George Bilezikjian and Henrik Avoian.
This year’s food demonstrations coordinated by Denise Hagopian included a demonstration led by Ara Balayan of Catering by Herach & Ara, who started the day off with his demonstration of preparing Pilaf. Later in the day Sylva Kaloyan gave a wonderful cheese-making demonstration. The demo booth offered tastes of Armenian cheeses, Sarma, and rice flour cookies scented with rosewater, sprinkled with poppy seeds.
Among the many activities at the festival was a Backgammon Tournament. This year’s Backgammon Champion was Raffi Minasian. Kids had lots to do in the Fun Zone with pony rides, a petting zoo, a bounce house slide, arts and crafts and much more. Ecology Auto Parts monster truck “The Eliminator” fascinated kids of all ages. Harley Motorcycles showcased by Hye Von Choppers, a live Fire Engine and Police Car provided by the Montebello Fire & Police Departments were all featured at the festival. “From shopping on Vendor Row, to the Ecology Monster Truck, to the backgammon tournament, Armenian dance, music and delicious food, there was something to do for everyone,” said Annik Minasaganian, Festival Co-Chair.
The 2nd Annual Armenian Food Fair and Festival was a memorable day for the Montebello community. Anita Altounian, Festival Chairperson was overwhelmed with joy at this year’s turnout and said, “We did it again! Our Montebello Armenian Community is beaming with pride as we hit a home-run for the second year in a row.” “I’ve received nothing but praise from the community, said Minasaganian, Festival Co-Chair. “Everyone was impressed with the professional yet fun atmosphere created at the fair.”
“On behalf of the entire committee, many thanks to our Sponsors, In-Kind Donors, Volunteers, loyal patrons and our fellow Festival Committee members. It was my pleasure working with an amazing committee that put so much time and energy into creating an overwhelmingly successful event,” said Altounian, Festival Chairperson.
Plans for next year’s festival are already underway. If you’d like to participate in next year’s festival, contact Holy Cross Cathedral at (323)727-1113 or visit us at www.ArmenianFoodFair.com.
Photo Credit: Nora Yacoubian