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Church welcomes community for cultural event
Assyrian pic1
A parade of dancers gathers around the 2009 Assyrian Fall Festival king and queen at St. John's Assyrian Presbyterian Church of Turlock. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Assyrian culture has been a big part of Turlock from the town’s very beginning, but not a lot of people know the traditions of the Assyrian culture. And this is why St. John’s Assyrian Presbyterian Church is inviting the public to come to their second annual Assyrian Fall Festival and see what their culture is all about.

“We want to get the community involved to know about us, know about our culture and see what we do,” said Monica Givargis, St. John’s member.

The Assyrian Fall Festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the church, 400 S. Palm St., Turlock. There will be food, activity booths and dancing.

The festival started last year, drawing over 350 people to the church to learn more about the Assyrian culture. In the past, the church held a fundraising bazaar in the fall, but then they decided to expand the event to a community outreach.

“What some people are going to see is our traditions,” Givargis said.

St. John’s youth will be putting on a traditional Assyrian dance starting with a parade and a king and queen.

There will also be authentic Assyrian food from kabobs to dolma and the customary tea time. An Assyrian tea house will be at the church with women dressed in old-fashioned clothing serving tea with homemade pastries.

The only charge for the community event will be for food. Authentic Assyrian artwork will also be on display with some woodwork and books written by people from the Assyrian culture, she said.

Activities especially for children will include bounce houses, face painting, and much more.

The event is not only an opportunity to share the Assyrian culture with the entire community; it is also a fundraiser for the 84-year-old St. John’s Assyrian Presbyterian Church.

St. John’s was established in 1926 under the leadership of Reverend Elisha David with 79 church members by her side. It was the only Assyrian Presbyterian Church in the West.

Currently, worship services are offered in the Assyrian language and are held at 11 a.m. on Sundays.

Givargis said one thing the Assyrian culture is known for is their welcoming embrace of others and that will become apparent to community members who come out to the Fall Festival.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.