Hosted by Searsport Shores Oceanfront Campground, Saturday July 23 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Summer in Maine is all about eating outdoors – the pleasure of long sunny days, and farm stands overflowing with heirloom tomatoes, glorious salad greens, local cheese, and baked goods galore. With beautiful picnic spots and delicious food around every corner, Astrig Koltookian Tanguay likes to say, “I think we should be called the ‘Picnic State’ instead of the ‘Pine Tree State’!”
Astrig – whose family is originally from Armenia – and her husband Steve run the award-winning Searsport Shores Oceanfront Campground, where eating al fresco is a way of life. This will be their second year of hosting an Armenian picnic in conjunction with the Armenian Cultural Association of Maine and the Makers Guild of Maine. ”It’s a great way to celebrate our beautiful surroundings, the region’s wonderful produce, and share our cultural heritage with friends, neighbors and visitors to Maine, ” explains Astrig, “ Plus we had so many people asking us to do it again.”
There will be authentic shish kebab sizzling on the outdoor grill, and great bowls of fragrant rice pilaf, handmade hummus and vegetarian falafel. Armenian “pizza” – lamejun – will be baked to order in the wood fired oven along with puffy pita breads, and there will be trays of homemade paklava and other middle eastern sweets for dessert. Coffee lovers will get the rare chance to taste genuine Armenian coffee – a potent espresso like brew – boiled up in a traditional jazzve with sugar and spice to taste.
Armenian and Middle Eastern music will be provided by master Oud player and recording artist Leo Derderian, accompanied by veteran musician Bob Arzigian and friends. There will also be traditional folk dancing and the opportunity to learn the steps and join in.
Picnic-goers are invited simply to relax in the campground’s gardens with their spectacular views of Penobscot Bay or explore the rocky shoreline and woodland trails. “Middle Easterns are known for their hospitality” says Astrig, “and all are welcome!”
This exciting new addition to the Midcoast calendar is the latest in a long tradition of Summer Picnics organized by Armenian communities around New England. “The earliest of these American Armenian Picnics go back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, “Astrig explains. “When Armenians first sought refuge here, they were leaving behind farms, orchards, and villages that their families had lived in for generations. Many had to make new lives in industrial towns and cramped apartments. Summer picnics – often organized by the Armenian Church — became a lifeline, reconnecting communities with the outdoors and each other, and keeping memories, customs, and Armenian culture alive.”
Searsport’s Armenian Picnic is being sponsored by three organizations: (1) The Makers Guild of Maine, a local nonprofit that promotes the ongoing value of heritage skills – and making things by hand, or at home, or in the community. (2) The Armenian Cultural Association of Maine, a Portland based nonprofit dedicated to preserving and perpetuating the Armenian culture and heritage in all aspects of life through the enhancement of its language, education, art, music, dance, literature, singing, theater, and sports. (3) Flying Shoes of Belfast a nonprofit dedicated to bolstering the spirited dance and music community of Midcoast Maine.
Admission is free and food will be available for purchase, but advance booking is strongly recommended as last year’s feast sold out fast,
Proceeds and donations from the event will be donated to the Mughdusian Studio Center in Yerevan Armenian. The Center was founded in 2014 with the goal of achieving social justice through art.
Searsport Shores Ocean Campground is located at 216 West Main St. (Route 1) Searsport, Maine 04974.
Please bring friends and family, leave pets at home and wear comfortable walking shoes. Handicapped parking is available.
For more information please visit: www.makersguildmaine.org/armenian-picnic/ or www.campocean.com or call the campground at 207-548-6059.