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Armenian Community

Lincoln Place Heritage Festival


Belleville News-Democrat, IL Sept 25 2005

Lincoln Place festival celebrates diverse neighborhood

GRANITE CITY - For Mary Firtos of Granite City and her two friends, the Lincoln Place Heritage Festival meant a chance to get authentic ethnic food.

"We got Hungarian, Armenian and Mexican food," Firtos said as she and her friends left the one-day festival Saturday afternoon.

The aroma of Armenian Lulu kabobs and the sound of Scottish bagpipes filled the streets of Lincoln Place neighborhood near the community center on Niedringhaus Avenue in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods.

The Lincoln Place Heritage Festival drew more than 1,000 to enjoy cultural foods from Hungary, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Armenia and Mexico.

"(Lulu kabob) is the Armenian version of a hamburger," said Nancy Avdoian, who was volunteering at the festival for the St. Gregory Armenian Church in Granite City. "They have a lot more flavor than your ordinary hamburger. It's got a lot of kick to it."

Using ground lamb, the meat is mixed with seasonings and onions, then topped with a tomato-parsley mix. It is covered with a yogurt-garlic sauce and placed in pita bread.

"It's a common dish in most Armenian houses," Avdoian said.

Also, on display at the festival were memorabilia provided the association by the descendants of the immigrants who once lived in this neighborhood.

Varsenig "Vee" Throne, 83, moved back in the 1990s after being married, raising her children and traveling the world. As a child, Throne grew up with her four brothers and sister in the brick house across from the Lincoln Place Community Center. She lives there again today.

"It was different back then," Throne said. "It didn't make a difference what nationality you were. Everybody was very close to one another."

Throne and her daughter, Norma Asadorian, who is president of the Lincoln Place Heritage Association, are working to bring back the heritage and life to this neighborhood.

"Norma and I and a handful of other people are trying really hard to revitalize this place," Throne said.

The revitalization process has included flower pots along Niedringhaus Avenue, which runs down the center of the neighborhood; a welcome sign; and in the future, antique light fixtures along the avenue.

For more information about future association activities, send an address to Lincoln Place Heritage Association P.O. Box 476 Granite City, IL 62040.

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