GLENDALE–While the Armenian Relief Society of Western U.S.A.’s 9th Annual Armenian Festival has now concluded, surely it will be remembered by its record breaking attendees as a weekend full of celebration, highlighting the great offerings of Armenian culture and the anniversary of the now century-old Armenian Relief Society.
Held on May 1 and 2 at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, the festival’s opening ceremony commenced with the march of Homenetmen Girl Scouts lead by their flag bearers and accompanied by drum roll. Following this procession, ARS Saturday School students sang the American and Armenian national anthems and ARS members sang the ARS anthem, accompanied by Alfred Mardoyan who directed the choir.
Master of Ceremonies Arshalous Darpinyan introduced the numerous guests and dignitaries present at the ceremony. In attendance were ARS Central Executive Board Chairperson Vicky Marashlian and Central Executive Board Advisor Nova Hindoyan. Guests also included Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian; district representatives from Senator Carol Liu and Congressman Adam Schiff’s offices; Joylean Wagner, Vice-President of the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education; Nayiri Nahabedian, Glendale Unified School District Board of Education Member; representatives from the Armenian National Committee, Armenian Youth Federation, Homenetmen, Hamazkayin, and various other organizations.
During the invocation, Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, offered his blessing to all organizers and participants.
“Through the ARS, generation after generation of Armenian women have bettered the lives of brothers and sisters through their humanitarian efforts and social services, and have played a crucial role in the preservation of our precious heritage with events, such as this festival,” said the Prelate.
“You, ARS members have proven yourselves as the worthy heirs of the founding generation, and we can be certain and confident that with members as devoted as you, this organization will continue to thrive for centuries more,” he added.
Following the invocation, ARS Regional Executive Chairperson Sossie Poladian conveyed the Regional Executive Board’s message, stating “…the secret to our success has been dedication, hard work and devotion towards our humanitarian objectives.” She also added, “This festival has been a perfect setting for accomplishing two of our objectives: to promote the Armenian culture and passing on our heritage. Our Saturday and After School program students have been involved in our festival from the beginning, and the students from the numerous dance studios have joined us to make each year a special experience for all involved.”
Poladian concluded by thanking the young performers and professional entertainers, as well as other ARS volunteers for their many hours of service during the festival. She also presented a plaque to Chief Financial Officer Tsolak Khatcherian of Karoun Dairies, Inc., which has sponsored the festival for the last nine years.
Harout Boghossian, District Representative of Senator Carol Liu’s office, presented a certificate to the ARS on behalf of Senator Liu and one vendor, Hasmik Kldjian, presented a framed 3-D ARS Centennial logo.
Once the festivities began, it was apparent that Armenians and non-Armenians alike were enjoying the numerous attractions. The lower level of the auditorium was dedicated to featuring a wide array of traditional Armenian displays. This extensive cultural section offered spectators the opportunity to enjoy exhibits of regional costumes, artwork, and demonstrations of how “lavash” (thin Armenian bread) and string cheese are made.
Fellow compatriotic unions participated with booths featuring a Kharpert specialty soup; another featuring tea from a “samovar” and “nazoog” cookies by the Iranian-Armenian community; as well as the Union of New Julfa’s booth featuring individuals dressed in Charmahal and New Persia costumes. The lower level also provided the perfect venue for children to be immersed with games and live entertainment.
The upper level included over twenty five vendors participating in this year’s festival. Live music by well-known singers, dance performances by Armenian folk dance groups, and dance lessons kept festival-goers continually entertained as they mingled over ethnic food and pastries.
The weekend-long festival’s atmosphere was full of vibrant energy and spirit as people from communities near and far came together to enjoy the rich nature of Armenian culture. Indeed, if a great program, attendance, and a most memorable weekend are to judge, then it is without question that the 9th Annual Armenian Festival was an absolute success.
Visit www.arswestusa.org for more information about the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, Inc. or call (818) 500-1343. The Regional Headquarters are located at 517 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, CA 91202.