We drove the 1h distance to Sartarabad with 3 cars and 13 repatriates for my very first Dolma Festival. Needless to say, it was a very good idea I had not eaten anything other than breakfast, considering the fact that each dolma was 100 dram (about 20-22 cents) and the fruits and accessories for the food free. Some booths had the dolma for free, which meant that they were out within 20-30 minutes from the start of the festival. The cost on the others was to prevent the same fiasco as last year, where people came with containers and filled them with food to last for the week. There were dolmas with grape leaves as per tradition, as well as fig leaves; some were with chichen, some with beef, some withveal, some with pork. There were even dolmas made with fish and crab. Most were quite delicious, each booth set up by a restaurant or culinary institute. Furthermore, what the point of a festival without song and dance? There were singers and dancers from different institutions, talents from all around Armenia shown off to the 1000+ spectators milling about or standing before the makeshift stage. There was a contest on who can eat the most alongside the contest for the best dolma and the largest dolma. Needless to say, the evening was filled with fun and laughter and stomachs so full we might not touch dolma for a couple of days, at least!
PS: the dolma to win the “Largest Dolma” contest was 8.7 meters long!!