The entrance of the Charles Mosesian Cultural and Youth Center at the St-James Armenian Church, Watertown, on Friday, October 14th.

St. James Church Holds Fall Bazaar, Its First Since COVID

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WATERTOWN – On Friday and Saturday October 14-15, the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church hosted its 75th fall bazaar, its first since COVID. The event is the church’s main fundraiser for the year.

Those entering the Charles Mosesian Cultural and Youth Center’s Hall of the church could smell the fresh pastries and meat cooked in the kitchen as soon as they walked in. Every step presented a food discovery, ranging from the Sunday school table, with pastries made by Sunday school parents and friends, to the cream khadyif. Homemade cupcakes were provided, mostly appreciated by the kids, who could buy them for $1 and put a variety of toppings on them.

The team of volunteers who helped to manage this event, including the providers Carl Boloyan and Sandy Raphalian, Friday, October 14

Other organizations represented there included the Armenian Saturday School and the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA), the Men’s Club, the Women’s Guild, they were part of this bazaar to help the church. They sold their items for two days straight, and the proceeds will all go to the church.

“This is the church’s biggest fundraiser of the year,” volunteer Sandy Raphaelian explained as she and fellow volunteer Carl Boloyan worked. These parishioners were involved in the planning of the event because they liked hosting visitors to immerse them in the Armenian culture in order to keep the church going.

As any Armenian event must almost certainly revolve around food, there was plenty of it. Goods on offer included everything from yalanchi to baked goods, as well as traditional kebabs. Vegetarians and vegans could also have their meals, and there were packs of Armenian alphabet pasta available for purchase.

Other handcrafted items were available on the St. James Artisan table, made by ladies who met on Wednesday evenings to work on their creations. A silent auction was also held, with 80 items displayed at the bazaar, including Armenian paintings, as well as manuscripts from Jerusalem and jewelry.

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The fall bazaar was also filled with Halloween decorations and even some early Christmas trees. “It takes many hands to create what we do, it’s a work team. We make memories together; we are very happy to host people when they’re coming with family and friends,” Raphalian added.

A table of homemade pastries, Friday, October 14

Father Arakel Aljalian, the pastor of the church for the past 23 years, was also one of the main drivers behind the organization. “The bazaar is a major fundraising, fellowship activity. This is an opportunity to meet new people, to taste Armenian food,” he said.

They weren’t able to get together for the last two years due to the COVID, but that didn’t stop them. Their volunteers began planning the event starting a few months back. The volunteer bakers have been making pastries since June. And the customers seem happy with the efforts.

“I come here every year. I enjoy this bazaar and all that it has to offer. The pastries are wonderful, and the food is so fresh. My family is also here, so that’s perfect,” said Diane Merian.

The Sunday School table for the children, Friday, October 14

The St. James Armenian Apostolic was consecrated in October 1937. The Cultural and Youth Center was dedicated in 1967 to allow church members and friends to gather and spend time together, as the bazaar still illustrates. They have held an annual bazaar as well as a spring picnic for the past 75 years. But this autumn bazaar appeared to be a new beginning after COVID. According to Maria Derderian, the church’s youth minister, around 1,000 people attended the event this year over the weekend.

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