SEARSPORT — When the Maine summer is in full and glorious bloom, Astrig Koltookian Tanguay always thinks back to the very special outdoor parties she enjoyed growing up in New Hampshire. Her family is Armenian, and as for so many other Armenians who had built new lives in the US, the summer picnic with Middle Eastern food, traditional music, and dancing was not just a cherished taste of home—but part of a rich, resilient culture that continued to thrive. “Feeling the warm sun on your face, making and moving to the music and sharing delicious home-cooked dishes with all their stories and memories makes you so joyful and glad to be alive,” explains Astrig. ” It connects you to your extended family, your community, to your own history and to the beauty of the outdoors.”

Astrig, for whom Maine is now home, and her husband, Steve Tanguay, run the family’s Searsport Shores Ocean Campground, which sits in woodland and gardens just north of Belfast. This year, after the long, dark winter of COVID, they decided they wanted to celebrate the people and activities that helped them and so many of us get through the pandemic—family, community, local home cooked food, music and the pleasure of making things by hand. It was clearly time to organize a grand Armenian Picnic!

Please join them Saturday, July 24, from noon to 9 p.m. at Searsport Shores Campground, 216 W Main St. There will be music from the Maine Middle Eastern Ensemble, led by oud player Eric LaPerna, and Casco Bay Tumblers; a casual, drop-in cooking demonstration; and a vibrant bazaar featuring work by local artists and makers. And just as Armenia’s 2,000 years of history was shaped by the global influences of the Silk Road, organizers are adding in a few extras, too. There will be the opportunity to join weavers Sarah Haskell and Susan Barrett Merril to create a gigantic community mandala in the afternoon, and fire raku pottery with Nate Winter under the night sky.

Everyone is welcome and as Armenians like to say, “Let the future be bright!”

For more details, visit makersguildmaineevents.org, email makersguildme@gmail.com or call 207-930-5919.