LOS ANGELES—On October 15, 2016, thousands of people participated in the first ever Sunland-Tujunga Armenian Arts and Culture Festival. The event was held on Commerce Avenue, a historic commercial corridor with an old town feel. “We chose this location because of the potential to activate this historic core while bringing the community together in a celebration of Armenian Art and Culture,” said Edwin Miranian, one of the organizers and a small business owner on Commerce Ave.
The event attracted over 80 vendors, which included a mix of Armenian artisans, a “kids’ zone with a petting zoo and various games along with arts and crafts. There was a “health zone” where members of the public received free health screenings, spine checks and acupuncture. Many local/small businesses and vendors from all over Los Angeles also participated. Many of the board members of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council (STNC) were present to conduct outreach, including STNC President Krystee Clark. “This is an amazing community event, and it’s great to see our community come together and give life to Commerce Avenue,” said Clark.
Admission to the festival was free thanks to an Arts Activation Fund grant through the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. It is estimated that over 5000 people participated throughout the 10 hour festival, enjoying the lineup of Armenian singers, dance troupes, comedians and performances from students of surrounding schools and organizations. A highlight of the festival was the presentation of a traditional Armenian Wedding Dance, performed by Adana Dance Group. “It was important to us to showcase Armenian artistry by inviting our neighbors to share in the music and food of our culture. The festival was an opportunity to also showcase the neighborhood we love and live in while embracing the diversity within our community” said Christine Jerian, co-chairperson of the Armenian National Committee of America’s Sunland-Tujunga Chapter.
“It was a privilege being a part of the team that brought this festival to life, as we had a vision for our community and we worked with intention to bring that vision to life. With determination and commitment, this team worked relentlessly, in a short amount of time, to bring our community together so we can all learn more about each other by celebrating the diversity of our city,” said Sonia Tatoulian of the Foothill Record.
The lead organizers of the event included the Armenian Sasoon Cultural Association, the Armenian National Committee of America’s Sunland-Tujunga Chapter, the Foothill Record, Garoun Association. The event was also sponsored by the Armenian Apostolic Church of Crescenta Valley and the Sunland Fighting Club, the Sunland-Tujunga Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations, businesses and individuals.
For more information, please visit or www.facebook.com/STarmenianfestival.