Annual Armenian Madagh Picnic Set for June 27 at St. Hagop Church in Racine


RACINE, Wis. — On Sunday, June 27, 2021, St. Hagop Armenian Apostolic Church will hold its annual Armenian Madagh Picnic at their church grounds, 4100 North Newman Road, in Racine. St. Hagop’s has held this traditional event since 1938.

The word “Madagh” means offering and goes back to the time of Abraham who was willing to offer his only son, Isaac, to God to prove his love, faith and obedience to the Lord. “When God witnessed this testimony, He asked Abraham to spare his son and offer a ram instead. Today, St. Hagop’s Madagh is an expression of that same love, faith and gratitude to the Lord for all that He has bestowed on us. Armenians throughout the world have designated places of pilgrimage where they go to worship and offer a meal of Madagh to the community,” says Chairman Zohrab Khaligian.

Antranig Mikaelian, top, scoops some beef and onion stew into Vache Mikaelian’s pot at St. Hagop Armenian Church’s annual picnic in 2019 at H.F. Johnson Park, shortly before attendees celebrated the Armenian tradition of Madagh.

For over 80 years, St. Hagop Armenian Church has sustained this old-country tradition. Armenians and non-Armenians alike gather for the Madagh to enjoy a day of live Armenian music, dancing, church service, and perhaps most importantly, food. This year, the St. Hagop Armenian Church is pleased to announce that through donations from their dedicated community members and friends, they have already collected over $7,500 for this year’s amended event.

“People would travel from near and far to partake in the festivities of the day. And our church would have been well underway preparing Cheese Puffs/Penerlee (hand-rolled flaky pastry filled with gooey cheese), Sari Bourma and Pakhlava (handmade flaky layers of buttery phyllo dough filled with cinnamon-sugar walnuts and finished with cinnamon-scented syrup), and over 4,500 Sarma (delicately hand-rolled grape leaves stuffed with a vegetarian mixture of rice and vegetables), true Armenian delicacies for picnic-goers. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus epidemic, for the 2nd year in a row only the traditional Madagh (beef stew) and bulghur (cracked wheat rice) will be prepared and served as the drive-thru item in one-quart containers,” says Khaligian.

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The blessing of St. Hagop’s Madagh will be held at 11:15 a.m., officiated by Reverend Daron Stepanian, Pastor of St. Hagop Armenian Church, and serving will begin after the blessing is completed.

Free-will donations will be gladly accepted. Donations can be made by check made payable to St. Hagop Armenian Church and mailed to:

St. Hagop Armenian Church

4100 N. Newman Road

Racine, WI 53406

Or through this Go Fund Me page at:

Also, visit this site to view an amazing 25-minute multimedia video created by Tali Gelenian of the “Madagh,” an Armenian cultural tradition in Racine, Wisconsin: (This video was part of the work of Tali’s senior honors thesis at the University of Vermont.)

Similar to last year’s event, the church will print any donation and message received by June 1, 2021 on a thank you card that we will be distributed along with the Madagh and bulghur pilaf served on the day of the event.

In addition, the church will post any donation and message received at any time on the Armenian “Madagh” Facebook site at:

Madagh is also what Armenians have named the stew that is prepared for the event, traditionally made with lamb (or beef) to represent the ram that God asked Abraham to offer in the place of his son, Isaac. The Madagh stew is cooked over open-fire pits and provided for free by the church in the spirit of charity, good faith, and fellowship to all.

“On behalf of St. Hagop Armenian Church, we wish to thank everyone in advance for their ongoing support during such challenging times. Although once again we will not have the opportunity to gather altogether as one big ‘Armenian family’ at Johnson Park this year, our sincere hope and desire is that we can all symbolically ‘break bread together’ via our June event in order to carry on our 83-year tradition of family, friends and Armenian hospitality,” adds Khaligian.

For questions or if you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this year’s event, please contact Zohrab Khaligian at “This year, our goal is to ensure we provide every donor with the proper name recognition for supporting our church,” he adds.

“This is my favorite day of the year. How much better can it get than   spending a beautiful summer day with friends and family, eating authentic Armenian dishes and treats, music and dancing, children’s snacks/drinks…truly the list goes on! Don’t miss the freewill offering in the morning (beef stew/rice) and children’s entertainment in the afternoon (balloon animals, face painting). I always make a day of this, inviting my  family and friends…bring your lawn chairs, footballs/Frisbees, pets, and join the fun,” says supporter Nora Fronjian.

There are many delicious recipes that St. Hagop Armenian Church prepares for the picnic, but for bakers looking to expand their bread repertoire, katah is a perfect place to start. It’s one of the most popular breads, and baked into this particular katah recipe is a story of community and resilience that St. Hagop Church continues to celebrate. “This recipe was brought to Racine by Armenian women from the villages of Tomarza, Khapert, and Jujun in the Anatolia region of present-day Turkey. They were part of the displaced Armenians who fled their homeland during the 1915 Genocide,” writes Tali Galenian. (See:

“These women and their families found themselves in Racine, a small industrial city in the very southeast corner of Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan.” Since then, these recipes have been passed down over  generations, largely by word of mouth, until they were finally captured and immortalized in a collective community cookbook, Cooking Like Mama.

For the recipe, see:

ORDER TODAY: Cooking Like Mama is available from St. Hagop. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, please contact the cookbook caretaker, Denise Lansing, at (262) 672-9265. The cost is $25.00 plus shipping and handling, with all proceeds to benefiting St. Hagop.

Year after year, the meals in Cooking Like Mama have brought people together to honor the story of the Racine community. As you try St. Hagop’s famous katah recipe, the church invites you to listen to some traditional Armenian music at: “Yerkel: A collection of Armenian Folk Songs,” go to:


Madagh Video Project:

Katah Blog Post:…/breaking-bread-armenian-...

Katah Recipe:…/katah-butter-layered-arm...

See: p-Church-Racine-Wisconsin-250610052493495/ armenian-picnic-serves-madagh/article_d2faac0e-4e88-5ba2-bbb0-41cf231c0a44.html



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