RICHMOND, Va. — Every year, Richmond’s Armenian community comes together for the St. James Armenian Food Festival. At the Home 61st Annual Armenian Food Festival, held September 6, three generations of one Armenian family volunteered to help ensure the festival was a success.
The festival is special for the Shadoyan-Ghoussoub family for many reasons. They use it as a time to spread their love for their culture.
Dalida Ghoussoub called the festival a chance to make connections within the Armenian community and bring her own family closer together.
“It connects me with all the people who are Armenian, it brings my children back to church, and we try to keep their roots and their connections,” she explained. “They can learn about their heritage, history, people, so that’s what I really like about it.”
Armenians trace their heritage back to Armenia, a region now known for both northeastern Turkey and the Republic of Armenia.
Dalida’s mom Georgette Shadoyan is an active member at St. James Armenian Church. She said she visits every week to help prepare for the festival.
“My mom comes year-round on Tuesdays to help prepare with things that have to be done before the festival,” Dalida said. “I help as much as I can with work full-time, but we all want to come and pitch in as much as we can.”
Georgette is fluent in Armenian and told her daughter that the opportunity to volunteer and be with her family gave her joy.
“We’re all really happy to give back to the community,” Dalida said.
Georgette’s granddaughter and Dalida’s daughter Christine Ghoussoub has volunteered at the festival for about 10 years.
“My mom is Armenian, so I’ve been doing this for a few years now and my family comes every year to help out,” Christine said.
Christine said her favorite part of working the festival was seeing everyone come together, plus the food. Grilled meat, rice and vegetables, as well as many Armenian sweet treats are served at the festival.
In addition to the food, dancer of all ages perform traditional Armenian dances.
“Seeing everyone come together as a whole is probably the best part and of course, the food, too,” she said. “We have a lot of different foods, desserts, and live music and dances.”
Close family friend Lilly Bouroujian Thomas said she really appreciated the help of the Shadoyan-Ghoussoub family.
“I love the family,” Thomas said. “The mom she is always coming and helping and when she makes food for me it reminds me of my mom because they are from the same area and I love it so much.”
By: Morgan Macenka, Joi Fultz, Esra Alfaraj
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