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Bayside fest celebrates the culture of Armenia

The Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs in Bayside will hold its annual Oceania Street Festival Saturday in deference to the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, Co-chairman Thomas Fourounjian said.

“This is our major fund-raiser for the year. We’ve been holding it annually for over three decades,” he said.

From noon until 9 p.m. Sept. 10, Oceania Street between 58th Avenue and the Horace Harding Expressway will be filled with vendors, rides for children and — if past years have been any indication — hundreds of people from various cultures enjoying ethnic food and live entertainment, Fourounjian said.

“We used to call it the Armenian Picnic. Now its the Oceania Street Festival. It’s open up to the whole community. We want people from as many different cultures as possible to come,” he said.

Traditional Middle Eastern foods such as shish kebabs (lamb and beef), lahmajoun (Armenian pizza), yalanchi (stuffed grape leaves) and baklava will be served alongside Armenian and American beers as well as tahn, a traditional yogurt drink, Fourounjian said.

The epicureans in the crowd can even pre-order dishes from the Hye Market and take them home at the end of the day.

A rock wall, clubhouse and slides will be available for children from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and performers from the Holy Martyrs Aradzani and Hye Bar Dance Groups, the Greek American Folk Dance Society and Kristy and Julie Asriyan from the Vanush Khanamiryan Dance Academy will entertain festival-goers.

Fourounjian said last year’s festival featured a Mexican dance group, and he is looking to replace a Korean dance group that had to make a last-minute cancellation.

“Basically, the church has been here since 1958. To date, we have an Armenian language school, a day school and Sunday school. We have a large parish with 1,500 to 2,000 members and we’re very involved in the community,” he said.

Fourounjian said that next year he hopes to expand the festival over the course of several days.

For more information, contact the church office at 718-225-0235.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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