Friday, June 6, 2014


WATERVLIET >> The Arsenal City will become the Festival City with both the annual St. Peter Armenian Festival and the first St. Ann Church Food Festival scheduled for this weekend.
The Armenian Festival, known throughout the region for its authentic Armenian food will have barbecued shish kebab, losh kebab (ground lamb and beef mixture), and the “Hye Burger,” which is a traditionally-seasoned burger that debuted last year and became an instant classic.
“I would love to sell out. I just want people to get the chance to have one before we run out,” said Bill Nevins, creator of the “Hye Burger.”
But traditional favorites will also be available for purchase — rice pilaf, lahmajune (Armenian pizza), yalanchi (grape leaves), hummus, baba ghanoush, cheese beoreg (a phyllo dough pastry filled with cheese), and of course paklava. If American food is more your thing, they will be serving chicken kebabs, pork kebabs, hot dogs, brownies and more.
“I’m a picky eater, but the food is delicious,” Rafi Topalian, deacon and choir director of St. Peter Armenian Church and owner of Top Custom Jewelers Inc/, said. “Everything is homemade with love and centuries of soul. This continues our traditions and that’s what makes it a celebration.”
And back by popular demand this year is The John Berberian Ensemble, who will perform live Armenian music throughout the two-day event at the church, which is located at 100 Troy-Schenectady Road.
“They will be playing traditional Armenian music on traditional instruments, “ Topalian said. “The music tells the stories of our ancestors, and it will make everyone feel Armenian that day.”
The Armenian Festival will also be filled with cooking demonstrations, Armenian dancing, carnival games, bounce rides and a special “Apple” raffle where participants can enter for only $10 a ticket, in chance to win things like cash, a gift card to Top Custom Jewelers, an Apple iPod or even a Apple MacBook Laptop.
All the money raised by the event will go to the church.
The event will be open from noon-8 p.m. on Saturday and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday, rain or shine. In the event of inclement weather, there will be covered seating available and take-out options.
“Come and enjoy with us, and learn about our culture as we celebrate our heritages roots right here in the Capital Region,” Topalian said proudly.
The St. Ann Church Food Festival will feature Lebanese food made in-house. Among the specialities will be taboulee, pilaf rice, hummus, chicken kebabs, beef kebabs, spinach pies, baklawa and fried dough with some American specialities.
This is the first Food Festival for St. Ann’s Church since it moved to Watervliet about a year and a half ago. They have been planning this event since February and are hoping to see 150 to 200 people at Hudson Shore Park, just off Exit 8 on I-787.
“We are hoping to introduce our ethic Lebanese food, culture and raise awareness of their new Catholic Church, where we have Maronite Rite,” Betty Karrat, chairwoman of the Food Festival, said. “The event is at a park, so bring the whole family. All our food is fresh and everybody loves it!”
The Children’s Dance Troop will perform Lebanese dances during the event to enhance the cultural experience and give people a chance to see the art of Lebanese song and dance.
Parking and admission are free for the event, which will be held rain or shine 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday under the pavilion. Take-out options will be available.
All money raised will go to finishing the restoration the new church.
“We are also doing this to fill the hole from the demolition of St. Patrick’s Church,” Karrat said. “Food is something that everybody loves, and everybody loves Lebanese food. This is the best Lebanese food you will ever have!”

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