Patricia Butero, Dian Erikian and Betty Bagdesgarian keep the Armenian food coming from the church kitchen.

Patricia Butero, Dian Erikian and Betty Bagdesgarian keep the Armenian food coming from the church kitchen.

NEW BRITAIN — Nearly 200 pounds of lamb, along with music and dance, fueled a goodsized crowd at the Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection Sunday.
The church’s annual Armenian festival drew parishioners and their non-Armenian friends and family, who shared in traditions that define the culture.
“It’s time to rejoice and have fun,” the Rev. Kapriel Mouradjian, the church’s pastor, said.
Welcoming visitors from all over the state and across New England is a big part of that celebration, he said
“We’ll feed 500 people today, from Providence to Trumbull and Worcester to Watertown.”
Sunday was the Feast Day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, so the event had a religious significance as well.
Parishioners from nearby St. Stephen’s Armenian Church joined in the festivities, since the two congregations have a close relationship.
“We do a lot of picnics and dances together,” said Marta Darakjian, who stopped by with her daughter Lenna.
St. Stephen’s Armenian Festival is on Sunday, Sept. 13, at Winding Trails in Farmington. In addition to the traditional Armenian food to be served, there will also be tennis, bocce and volleyball.
“We support them. They support us,” Roxy Garabedian of St. Stephen’s said of the two congregations. “We have a lot of friends and relatives here.”
Avon residents Dick And Doris Tourvile are not Armenian nor are they parishioners of either church, but they still received a warm welcome at Sunday’s festival.
“My cousin Henrietta is a parishioner and we have other friends here,” Doris Tourville explained. “We came last year; the food was so good and everyone was so nice.”
This year the couple had their sights set on the dessert table, laden with baklava, cookies and other traditional Middle Eastern treats.
The main event featured lamb shish kebabs, rice, pita bread and a specialty known as kheyma — a seasoned raw beef patty many enjoyed on a roll as they would a hamburger.
John Geragosian described it as “Armenian sushi.”
“It’s kind of like steak tartare,” he added. “It’s very good.”
With heritage that is half-Armenian and half-Greek, Geragosian is familiar with both cultures. His mother Harriet and her relatives are members of St. George Greek Orthodox Church on West Main Street, across the city.
“The church is similar, the food is very similar and the dance is very similar,” Harriet said. “We’re both very family-oriented.”
Even if they had no related heritage, those who attended Sunday’s event got a taste of what it means to be Armenian. Serving up those traditional flavors was David Abrahamian, who spent the afternoon standing over the grill.
“Today is a good opportunity to bring everyone to the church,” he said. “We want to enlighten the community.”
Erica Schmitt can be reached at (860) 801-5097, or [email protected].