Raffi Gostanian: “Come and Join Us!”


Raffi Gostanian, Chairman of ArmeniaFest Committee of St. Sarkis Armenian Church speaks to The Dallas Telegraph about 2014 Armenian Culture and Food Festival in Dallas.

Text and photo by Serge Taran

Raffi Gostanian, Chairman of ArmeniaFest Committee of St. Sarkis Armenian Church speaks to The Dallas Telegraph about 2014 Armenian Culture and Food Festival in Dallas.


How many Armenians we have here in the metroplex?

– There are approximately 450 Armenian families in our St. Sarkis Armenian Church alone. Many are very active in our church. Others live relatively far, and they come time to time. Because of the distance they can not come every single Sunday.


– Another words, ethnic Armenians number in DFW is much larger. I remember hearing dome estimations of 10-20 thousand Armenians in North Texas.

– Yes. We try to get more of them to come to the church even if it is not on a daily basis because many of them live too far away. Armenian Fest is one of this activity that we put on to try to encourage these families to come, at least occasionally to the church. We specifically reach-out to these families through mailings that we send, phone-calls, emails. Currently there are about thousand mailers we are going to send out specifically to Armenian families that are not active participants at the church, but they live in the area. We are hopping that the number of them will come to the Festival, and they can understand where the church is, meet the Priest, and all the other community members.

– ArmeniaFest it is not a religious event. It is more cultural event, and your simply celebrate the culture and the history of your great nation.

– You are absolutely right. It is a cultural event for entire weekend. It is 19th year that we are going to put on this Fest.

– Would you, please, describe what people will experience at the Fest, when they come in October.

– It is going to be very dynamic! Two different types of entertainment activity will be occurring during all three days the event. One is going to be singing. A lot of the traditional Armenian folk songs, temple songs as well. Some of those songs will also have different types of dances associated with them.

– Armenian culture is known for its spectacular and fired-up dances.

– And you will see a lot of that. The members of the community are very busy practicing them, making costumes. We very fortunate to have instructor from California who comes almost every third weekend using her own time to come and teach different dances to the young people who will be performing. What nice is that just not a repetition of last year and year before performers. There are a lot of new dances.

– Would you please tell us, if there will be a difference between the festival that people came to see last year, and this coming festival.

– Defiantly, there going to be differences. It is not only the songs and singing programs, dances and dancing program. The costumes and out-feat will be different.

– Last year The Dallas Telegraph was privileged to taste outstanding Armenian Food. Are you doing it this year too?

– This year we will not only sample and sell the best of Armenian food, but we will have cooking demonstrations. So the audience will not only will be able to understand from a cultural perspective, but they also be able to understand some of the cooking techniques. If our Dallas ladies, or men – they do it better (joking: DT) want to learn how to prepare authentic Armenian food, they will be able to learn it at the Fest. There will be a lot of sweets, desserts too.

– For people who come to your event may be some of the cultural aspects will not be clear to understand, to grab, and to appreciate. Would you be having some kind of introduction to the numbers, some explanation what is a value of it?

– Yes, they will be prior to each of the events and an explanation what the audience is about to see, the meaning behind the songs and dances and also in between each of the different songs it will be even for description for different dances. So the audience can understand what is song or dance is going to be about and what is the meaning of that particular dances.

– Tell us about the exhibition in the hall of the church.

– There are different types of information is going to be presented in the hall. We are going to have a specific person who will be leading the groups and can explain what a lot of the people visiting the hall are looking at. There are going to be information printed up place next to the exhibits. We will also have one or two volunteers who will lead different groups on a tour through the exhibits and be able to not only talk about what is being presented, but also certainly be able to answer to any questions that people might have as they are going around and viewing the displays. So people can read as they walking around, it will be easy to understand what they are looking at, and to appreciate the cultural significance.

– How many people are you expecting at the festival this year?

– We are expecting from 2,500 to 3,000 participants. It is a three day Festival. As long as the weather remains nice, we expect a large turnout.

– What would be you message to our broad audience of North Texas?

– Come out! Have fun! It is very much a family event. There will be a lot of children activities outside and inside and, of course, delicious Armenian food and lovely entertainment.


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