The tenth annual Greek Festival, a traditional family-oriented celebration, will be held Friday through Sunday, September 8-10 on the parking lot of St. Thomas the Apostle Orthodox Church, 4200 S. Holiday Avenue. Festival hours are 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free with plenty of free parking. In the past they've had about 5000 attendees to the festival.
Spokesperson Jeanne Duffey says "it's more like a party than a 'festival'... We get a lot of repeat customers and visitors, so we wanted to add a lot of new things this year."
Greek food is, of course, of the event's most popular draws each year. While many of the food entrees such as souvlaki are repeats from previous years, they're bringing back a goodie first introduced at last year's festival, and which proved to be very popular: keftedes (Greek meatballs).
New this year on the menu are two items: loukoumades (Greek doughnuts), which they'll prepare right on-site; and saganaki, a kind of Greek flaming cheese. Duffey jokes, "If we pull this off... well, we bought a lot of fire extinguishers! When they suggested that we do this, I said, 'flaming cheese?! You want me to make flaming cheese?' Because we didn't do this at home--this is a restaurant kind of thing!"
Other features of the festival include alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages, including a new Greek wine-tasting bar; a bounce house for the kids (Duffey jokes that they were "trying to find a Parthenon bounce house" but that didn't work out!); Greek memorabilia and silent-auction items donated by local vendors; and brief but entertaining talks about the Orthodox faith by the church pastor, Father Andrew Moore. They've also produced a new visual backdrop for the popular "Greek For a Day" photo-op booth. "That's highly popular," says Jeanne Duffey. "We have costumes that (people) can drape around them."
It wouldn't be a Greek festival, though, without Greek music and dancing. Festival goers are invited to join in the native dances of Greece, featuring the rhythms of traditional music from the Greek mainland and the islands. The dancing is especially "dear to (Jeanne Duffey's) heart. I grew up dancing--I don't even know when I learned how. The music FORCES you to get and dance! That's all I can say." Don't worry, she says they'll teach you the basics. "You just have to hang on to people on both sides of you, and that's all you have to do. It's a circle dance. Greeks like for you to dance with them... and eat with them... and drink with them!"
For information visit https://www.facebook.com/opagreekfest/, or call 841-8586.