Inaugural festival to provide authentic Assyrian experience

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The 2015 Central Valley Assyrian Festival aims to share with the community the Assyrian culture through dance, food and history.
By Alysson Aredas Staff Reporter
The Stanislaus County Fairgrounds will soon be abuzz with all things Assyrian— food, historical exhibits and live entertainment—as the 2015 Central Valley Assyrian Festival strives to make a lasting impression in Turlock by immersing the community in the “culture that started it all.”

“We wanted to open this festival to the community so they may experience our culture, our foods, and out history,” said Reverend Father Genard Lazar.

Hosted by the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, the festival will guarantee an authentic cultural experience for each guest with homemade food from the local Assyrian community, which will be made using family recipes that have been passed down for generations.

Guests can also learn more about the Assyrian culture itself through cultural and religious exhibits regarding the Assyrian Church of the East, as well as the 100-year genocide that took place in 1915 against the Assyrian people.

“We would like the general community in the Central Valley to be aware of our culture as Assyrian people who have been in the United States since the late 1800s,” said Bishop Mar Awa Royel. “When the first official immigration began, it was historical and noteworthy that the immigration was to Turlock.”

The festival will also feature live music, Assyrian dance groups, a live telethon on Assyrian National Broadcasting and KBSV, and a children’s area that will include carnival rides, cultural projects and games.

There will be a processional parade at 12 p.m. on the first day of the festival with dignitaries from various cities, including Mayor Gary Soiseth, Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa and City of Modesto Council member Jenny Kenoyer.

“We want to have all of neighbors come celebrate with us our culture, food, dances, folklore—everything that defines who we are as Assyrian,” said Royel. “This is an open initiation to come and see who we are.”

The Central Valley Assyrian Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 29-30 at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. Admission and parking will be free. For more information, visit or call 678-7121.