Festival fetes Armenian culture

Thousands of people celebrated Armenian culture this week at the Civic Auditorium through art, dance, history and food — lots of it.

The Armenian Relief Society of the Western United States ushered thousands of people to its Armenian Festival at the Civic Auditorium, where there were endless servings of shish kebabs, yershig sandwiches, sarma, tabouleh and baklava.

On Saturday alone, organizers said 4,500 people attended the festival.

Dozens of singers performed, and folk dance groups entertained in traditional clothing.

Dirouhi Kupelian, 74, of Fresno, was busy handing out walnuts with delicate and sweet square-shaped wraps made with grape juice and corn starch. Kupelian displayed many of her family heirlooms, some dating as far back as 150 years, to re-create what a family living room would have looked like at the turn of the 20th century in the former Armenian region of Kharpert — now known as the Elazig province in modern-day Turkey.

There was a coal-heated iron, gas lamp, coffee grinder and some handmade blankets, wooden combs and old-fashioned cotton loofahs.

Nayiri Aghajanian examined Kupelian’s antiques and said she had similar treasures in her Philadelphia home. She attended the festival with her daughter, who lives in Sherman Oaks.

“To be a proud American citizen, you have to be proud of where you are from,” she said.

The money raised from the festival supports the society’s social and educational community outreach. Founded in New York City in 1910, it has about 16,000 members spread across 26 countries.
 
 

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