8th Annual Armenian Cultural Festival

St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church of the Desert held its 8 th annual Armenian Cultural Festival on the weekend of November 14th and 15th. This year ’s Festival was a wonderful success! With more than 3,000 people attending our Festival… we had the largest exposure and attendance in our 8 -year history of Festivals.

Many attendees commented on how they wait each year to attend our Festival and enjoy our delicious foods and culture. As we continue to improve on each Festival experience, we can hope to become a household name in the community.

At this year ’s Festival we had several interesting and inviting Vendors that provided an opportunity for people to purchase items of jewelry, nuts and candies, honey, cake pops, and more! The children ’s area was expanded to include a fun bounce house and face painting for kids to enjoy. The Ani Dance Ensemble entertained the guests with their traditional and beautiful costumes and Armenian dancing. While in between dance performances, guests could enjoy dancing to the Armenian music provided by DJ Rex and Aram Lampajian, while also enjoying the beautiful voice of Samuel Samuelian.

Our Festival Raffle was also very successful this year. The grand prize of a beautiful gold bracelet with multi -colored precious and semi -precious stones was generously donated by Garo & Jacci Tutunjian from Smoke Tree Jewelers. They also donated a beautiful gold and sapphire cross and amethyst pendant. Other prizes were an iPad Mini, Flat Screen television, Armenian brandy, and other jewelry pieces. In addition to our general raffle, we added a second raffle opportunity this year. Our 60/40 raffle was well received and very successful. Together, the raffles contributed nicely to the Festival income this year.

Everyone who attended this year ’s Festival also enjoyed our traditional Armenian foods. The food lines were busy all day! We would like to thank the many volunteers who helped to prepare and serve food during the two -day Festival. It takes a considerable amount of planning, energy and expense to produce a successful Festival. The Festival Committee, along with the many volunteers, works very hard towards organizing and implementing the festival each year.

Each year, our Armenian Cultural Festival helps to raise awareness of our Armenian heritage here in the desert. We are able to share some of our traditions, music, dance, artwork, and of course, our delicious specialty foods, with the community.

The Parish Council and Armenian Festival Committee would like to take this opportunity to thank our many Sponsors for their support of this year ’s Armenian Cultural Festival. Because of their generous contributions, along with the overwhelming food sales, this year ’s Festival was the most successful and profitable Festival in our eight -year history of Festivals.

Thank you… See you at next year ’s Festival!

Grapes Blessing Service

On the day of the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, on August 16, 2015, the blessing of grapes took place immediately after the Divine Liturgy.  The ceremony is rich in symbolism and emphasizes the important role the Virgin Mary assumed in the revelation of God.  The custom of blessing grapes, the first fruits of the harvest, can be traced back to Old Testament times, when farming was a common vocation that so much care and time was given to it.  Of the vast variety of produce, grapes had a special place of honor and were          considered the “first fruits”, because they were the first produce of harvest.
Among the Israelites, as among many neighboring   cultures, grapes were regarded as belonging in a special way to God since they were the first fruits.  It was He who gave the gift of the whole harvest and to offer Him the first fruits was to acknowledge complete dependence on Him.  Special services of thanksgiving were conducted by priests in the temple, a tradition that prevailed to the time of Christ.  With the birth of Jesus, these dedications took on a new meaning.  Jesus Christ was the first born (or first fruit) of Mary and, as such, was offered to God in the temple. (Luke 2:25-30).
Armenian Church doctrine teaches that the Blessed Mother Mary has a primary place of honor because it was ‘of’ her and ‘by’ the Holy Spirit that God became incarnate (took human flesh).  She is seen as the image of humanity fully        obedient to God and ultimately sanctified by doing God’s will.  Therefore on the feast remembering her Dormition (falling asleep in Christ) and Assumption (ascending to heaven), we celebrate the Blessing of Grapes.
Celebrated is the person of St. Mary, who gave birth to Jesus Christ, the first fruit.  Christ gave His blood to us for      eternal life and in remembrance we bless the grapes, the fruits of the earth.

Ladies Summer Luncheons

Instead of the formal meetings, the Ladies that are still in town for the summer get together for a monthly lunch at a local restaurant.  Our first summer get together was at the Yard House in July.  Thank you to JoAnne Balgochian for arranging a wonderful afternoon for the 18 Ladies that attended.

The August  luncheon was held at The Daily Grille Restaurant in Palm Desert.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch, in a private room of the restaurant.  We met some new ladies that afternoon, who have since joined and participated in the Ladies Society meetings and activities. Thank You Sophia Miller for arranging this wonderful luncheon.




The long-standing German folk-festival tradition of Oktoberfest was celebrated at St. Garabed’s Armenian Apostolic Church of the Desert on Friday night, September 15th. Over 140 people attended this family oriented, fun and “festive” evening, which was a huge success! Authentic German sausage, sauerkraut, potato salad and desserts were a highlight of the evening.  A selection of refreshing beers, games and contests, and the lively “Oom pah pah” musician added fun and entertainment to the night!  The children had fun in taking their turns at breaking the candy filled pumpkin piñata.

The Parish Council would like to thank all those who attended and supported the Oktoberfest fundraising event.  Many generous donations were received that night, as well as other donations received from those who were not able to attend.  The Church was able to raise approximately $3,000.00 to help towards the operating expenses of the Church.  Your support is very much appreciated.

These types of relaxed and casual events are a great opportunity for friends and families to come together for a fun evening.  The Parish Council is encouraged by the support of this type of event and plans to continue in the planning of   similar events for everyone to enjoy.

As we head into the Fall season, our calendar of events is very full.  We hope that you will all attend and support the upcoming Armenian Cultural Festival which will be held on November 14th and 15th.  This is our main fundraising event of the year, where we can celebrate with the community and enjoy our Armenian culture, foods, music and heritage.

Thank you for your continued support.