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July 23 , 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Armenian Folk Dancing, Music and Traditional Middle Eastern Foods
Celebrate Summer with a traditional Armenian Picnic right here on the Midcoast!
“I often think Maine should be called ‘The ‘Picnic State’ instead of ‘The Pine Tree State’!” laughs Astrig Koltookian Tanguay“ We have such wonderful local food and spectacular picnic spots around every corner.”
Astrig’s family came from Armenia during the 1915 genocide, and this year’s picnic will once again be drawing on her vivid memories of the Armenian Picnics she enjoyed as a child growing up in New Hampshire.
Live music will be provided by master Oud player and recording artist, Leo Derderian, accompanied by veteran musician, Bob Arzigian, and friends. There will also be traditional folk dancing and the opportunity to learn the steps and join in led by MDI artist Carolyn Rapkevian. “Come and make a day of it,” suggests Astrig: “We have great views of Penobscot Bay, a rocky beach and lots of woodland trails. Armenians are known for their hospitality” and all are welcome!”
There will be authentic shish kebab sizzling on the grill, and great bowls of fragrant rice pilaf, handmade hummus and vegetarian falafel. Love pizza? You will be able to order the Armenian version – lamejun – straight from the wood fired oven. For dessert, there will be homemade paklava and other middle eastern sweets, and genuine Armenian coffee – a potent dark brew a bit like espresso – prepared in a traditional jazzve.
Admission to the event is free and food and drinks will be available for purchase, but buying lunch tickets in advance is strongly recommended as last year’s feast sold out fast.“
This exciting new addition to the Midcoast calendar is the latest in the long tradition of Summer Picnics organized by Armenian communities in New England.. “They go back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, “ Astrig explains. ”Many of the first Armenians who sought refuge here were leaving behind farms, orchards and villages that their families had lived in for generations. They had to start new lives in industrial towns and cramped city apartments surrounded by strange customs and foreign languages. Summer picnics – which were usually organized by Armenian Churches – were a lifeline. They brought people together outside, reconnected communities, and kept the memories and customs of ‘home’ alive.”
Searsport’s Armenian Picnic is being sponsored by three organizations: (1) Flying Shoes of Belfast a nonprofit dedicated to bolstering the spirited dance and music community of Midcoast Maine. (2) The Armenian Cultural Association of Maine, a Portland based nonprofit dedicated to preserving and perpetuating the Armenian culture and heritage in all aspects of life through the enhancement of its language, education, art, music, dance, literature, singing, theater, and sports. (3) The Makers Guild of Maine, a local nonprofit that promotes the ongoing value of heritage skills – and making things by hand, or at home, or in the community.
Proceeds and donations from the event will be donated to the Mughdusian Studio Center in Yerevan Armenian. The Center was founded in 2014 with the goal of achieving social justice through art.
Please bring friends and family, leave pets at home and wear comfortable walking shoes. Handicapped parking is available