The 2021 Providence Olympics Steering Committee is proud to announce that the Providence “Varantian” Chapter will be hosting the 87th AYF-YOARF Annual Olympic Games. While the past year has been very difficult between the Artsakh War and COVID-19, we hope that uniting our AYF-YOARF community through the Olympic Games will strengthen our local Diasporan community.
In Rhode Island, health officials have reported that 64-percent of the state has been administered at least one shot of the COVID vaccine; 57-percent of the population has been fully vaccinated as of June 23rd. The Providence Olympics Steering Committee will be taking the necessary precautions to ensure that all attendees will have a fun, but more importantly, safe weekend. All Rhode Island state guidelines will be followed leading up to and during the weekend, including (but not limited to) testing, masks, social distancing and quarantining. The exact details of the long weekend protocols will be announced soon.
The Providence Steering Committee would like to emphasize that the AYF Olympics is the primary fundraising event for the AYF-YOARF. The event enables the organization to execute a variety of programs, including Junior Seminar, Senior Seminar, and AYF Internship in Armenia. Following the postponement of the 2020 AYF Olympic Games, the financial lifeline of the AYF-YOARF was cut. The Providence Steering Committee encourages all supporters of the AYF to attend the 2021 Olympic Games in Providence and contribute to the Ad Book to help ensure the financial well-being of the organization we all hold so close to our hearts. To do your part in helping the AYF-YOARF hold a full schedule of programs in 2021 and beyond, please consider placing an ad in the Olympics Ad Book.
In regards to lodging, the Providence Steering Committee has so far secured one hotel and will be releasing information on additional hotels in the coming days. The Hilton Providence sold out 150 rooms within two hours of going live.
Athletic events will begin on Friday morning with golf, tennis and swimming. Tennis will take place at East Greenwich High School, which will become a familiar venue throughout the weekend, as softball and track will also take place there. The golf tournament will take place at Valley Country Club, a beautiful, private 18-hole course in Warwick, RI. The tennis and golf tournaments will begin at 9:00 AM sharp. Following tennis and golf, we will move up north to Lincoln, RI to the MacColl YMCA pool and dive into the swimming events. The MacColl YMCA features a six-lane outdoor pool. Swimming will begin at 4:30 PM and will end around 7:30 PM.
The Fabulous Vosbikian Band will launch the entertainment lineup for the weekend on Friday. First formed in 1939, the Fabulous Vosbikian Band is continuing a unique family tradition with its third generation members as the pioneers of Armenian dance music in America. Their performance begins at 7:00 PM.
An east coast fan-favorite, Kevork Artinian and his band will be bringing their energy and contemporary renditions of classic Armenian favorites at 10:30 PM on Friday night in the Rhode Island Convention Center Ballroom until the early hours of Saturday morning. Tickets for Friday night will be $60 per person, which includes admission to both Alumni Night and the AYF Gala. Save over 20 percent on the dances by buying a Hye Pass in advance.
A staple of AYF Olympics weekend is the softball tournament that takes place all day on Saturday. The tournament typically consists of 10 to 12 teams, including teams from the west coast and Canada. The softball tournament will be held at East Greenwich High School. A concession stand is on the grounds and will serve delicious AYF picnic food throughout the day.
In a slight change from Chicago’s athletic schedule in 2019, basketball will now be held on Saturday, intermittently throughout the softball tournament. 2021 will be only the second year since basketball was added to the Olympics athletic slate, and the hope is that hosting the event on Saturday will greatly increase participation, both in terms of athletes and spectators. Basketball will also be at East Greenwich High School, in the gymnasium inside the school.
After the bats are swung and the runs have been scored, everyone will head back to the hotel to get ready for an amazing night of entertainment. The Saturday night dance will feature Canada’s very own Elie Berberian. The last time Berberian performed on the east coast was Boston’s November dance back in 2019. Berberian will hit the stage at 9:30 PM. Tickets will be $70. Worcester’s DJ Chris “Kidbibz” Habibian, who performed at NATs in Worcester in 2018, will keep the party going starting at 2:00 AM until 5:00 AM.
After a long night of partying, athletes will have to muster all their energy for a decisive premiere event: the track and field. This event will decide who ultimately wins the 87th AYF Annual Olympic Games. Teams will organize and strategize their runners, jumpers and throwers to give their chapter the best chance to take home the Olympic Cup. From the stands, spectators will watch a fierce competition unfold while upholding the Olympic spirit with camaraderie and respect. The track meet will commence at 9:00 AM at East Greenwich High School; events will end around 4:30 PM. The final relays make up some of the most tense moments of the entire weekend, as those points often end up determining the winner of the Olympics.
As coaches head back to the hotel and start their calculations and point projections, the Sunday night entertainers will be preparing to rock the stage for the AYF Olympic Grand Ball. Sunday’s lineup consists of the biggest names in the game, the AYF Olympics 2021 All-Stars: John Berberian (oud), Michael Gostanian (vocals), Mal Barsamian (clarinet), Ara Dinkjian (keyboard), Jason Naroian (dumbeg), Ron Tutunjian (dumbeg) and Steve Vosbikian, Jr. (clarinet) with Onnik Dinkjian also on vocals. An Olympic dance would be incomplete without this talented group of multi-generational family men who have brought tradition to life. Gostanian, Berberian, the Dinkjians and the crew are going to ignite the stage as always, but most of all they are leading by example to keep our Armenian music alive. Tickets for the AYF Olympic Grand Ball will be $60.
Before the night is over, the 2021 AYF-YOARF Central Executive will take the stage to announce the results of the weekend. The chapter with the highest score will be awarded the coveted Olympic Cup; the winning chapter also performs their chapter dance. Sunday is a night full of anticipation, celebration, but most importantly, tradition.
Providence’s very own DJ Osheen and Chris “Kidbibz” Habibian will help close out the night until everyone’s legs finally give out at 5 a.m.
The first, large-scale Armenian community event in almost two years is sure to be a hallmark occasion. The Providence Steering Committee looks forward to hosting everyone this Labor Day weekend and is excited to reunite with the entire AYF-YOARF community.