CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ethnic festivals celebrate traditions and keeping them alive. The Armenian Food Festival and Bazaar will celebrate the survival of a nation.
The bash will bring cultural exhibits, folk bands, dancers and Armenian crafts to St. Gregory of Narek, 678 Richmond Road, Richmond Heights. It runs Friday through Sunday.
This year marks the 14th year for the annual festival. But there is another anniversary that underscores this year’s festival – the 100th year of the Armenian Genocide.
Historians estimate that 1.5 million Armenians were systematically killed beginning in 1915 in the crumbling Ottoman Empire. France, Russia, Canada and Brazil and 40 other countries around the world have official recognized the Armenian Genocide. The United States still has not, due to pressure and threats from Turkey, which denies that the genocide took place.
“This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the 24th anniversary of Armenia’s independence,” said Raffi Kayayan, festival chairman. “We invite everyone to join us to celebrate together the rebirth and survival of our nation, and the glory of our culture and cuisine.”
The festival will include tours of St. Gregory of Narek, the first Armenian church in the area. It will also trace the arrival of the Armenians to the area – which dates back to the beginning of the 20th – and the establishment of the first parish , in 1911.
Of course, there will be food – a seemingly endless supply, from stuffed grape leaves, shish kebab, cheese pastries, vegetarian delicacies and Armenian desserts, including Pakhlava.
You can also get a slice of Armenia, er, I mean, Armenian Pizza. — or as it is called back in the old country, Lahmacun. This pizza consists of a thin piece of dough topped with minced meat and onions, tomatoes and parsley.
Festival hours are 5-9 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. For more info, go to facebook.com/ClevelandArmenianFoodFest or call 440-665-7843.