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Letter from the CEOjul4c

The Arizona Russian Festival, a non-profit volunteer organization, was created in 2010 with the blessing of the Rev. John McCuen, the priest of Holy Archangels Orthodox Church, a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in Phoenix, Arizona. The Rev. John McCuen had been faithfully serving the parishioners of Holy Archangels Orthodox Church since 2002. He takes a big interest in Russia, Russian culture, and Russian religious roots.

The mission of our festival is to advocate and celebrate the spirit of diverse cultural, religious and ethnic heritage, legacy and rich history of Russia.

From 1990 the Russian-American population surged 254 percent and is estimated at 5.1 million. That is 2.04% of the US Population and the average of 4.5% population of the top 10 metropolitan areas. Out of the total foreign-born population of the US, which is calculated at 28.4 million, Russian-Americans are the second largest ethnic group representing 10.3%. The leading ethnic group are Mexican-Americans that represent 28%. From 1990 through 2000, the population of the Phoenix metropolitan area increased by 45.3%, including the rapidly growing Russian-speaking population.

81% of the Russian-speakers were born in the former Soviet Union; and majority of them exhibit a strong preference for in-culture and in-language communications. As a non-profit cultural organization, the Russian Festival plans on producing many cultural activities throughout the year including, dance concerts, folk dance classes, social gatherings and lectures, as well as religious presentations. Through social, cultural and educational events, our festival intends to enhance the life for the citizens of the diversed Russian-American and all local community.

In November of 2010 over 5,000 visitors had participated in the festival activities. Our first annual festival took place in Glendale Community College and was a family oriented community event designed to share ethnic heritage and culture including art, music, food, ethnic dances, historical costumes, and Russian automotive industry represented by Ural motorcycles. The festival attracted people from all over the South-West region of the US and as far as Canada.

Promoting and celebrating cultures from around the world has been a key component in developing the cosmopolitan society that flourishes in the Phoenix metropolitan area, often referred to as the Valley of the Sun. I hope that our festival will continue making important contributions towards better understanding and popularizing of our Russian cultural heritage among the local society.

Julia Stepanova
Founder/CEO of Arizona Russian Festival