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PEACH WEEKENDER | CULTURE

Greek-American Festival returns with music, dancing, and food

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    Dancers from Asteria put on a show during the Greek-American Festival at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Toledo.

    The Blade
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    The Greek-American Festival at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Toledo.

    The Blade
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Expect a warm welcome at this weekend’s Greek-American Festival.

“Part of Greek culture, and also Orthodoxy, is this strong belief in philoxenia,” said the Rev. Larry Legakis, who serves as pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral. He translated the term, loosely, to mean “welcoming the stranger.”

IF YOU GO:

What: Greek-American Festival

When: 11 a.m. to midnight Friday, 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 740 Superior St.

Admission: $5 after 3 p.m. Friday and on Saturday or $2 on Sunday. Children 12 years old and younger are free when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Parking is available throughout neighborhood or for $5 at adjacent lot.

Information: toledogreekfest.com.

“It’s important for us to do that, and part of our festival is just that: It’s offering our culture, our faith, our food to people and to treat them well,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The parish will again invite the community to enjoy Greek culture, faith, and, importantly, food at its 47th annual Greek-American Festival, Friday through Sunday at the downtown cathedral grounds, 740 Superior St. A packed weekend lineup offers visitors cultural presentations, cooking demonstrations, dance performances, and cathedral tours — all, of course, between plates of gyros, grape leaves, and more.

The festival, which has grown significantly since its early days, is expected to attract between 20,000 and 25,000 in the course of the weekend. George Sarantou, a parishioner and publicity chairman for the festival, said the food and pastries come as the biggest draw.

Visitors can learn how to make some of these traditional dishes themselves at the festival. Parishioners will lead several cooking demonstrations throughout the weekend: spanakorizo, a spinach and rice dish, at 7 p.m. Friday; dolmathes, or stuffed grape leaves, at 6 p.m. Saturday; briam, made with eggplant and zucchini, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday; and the lasagna-like pastichio at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

They can also rely on the experts and dine on numerous volunteer-made treats, sold a la carte or in heaping platters priced at $12 each. (The lamb shank dinner is $17.) The pre-made platters offers plenty of variety: A sampler, for example, is packed with pastichio, moussaka, spanakopita, tiropitas, and dolmathes.

CTY-VIGIL12-1

Dancers from Asteria put on a show during the Greek-American Festival at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Toledo.

The Blade
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Festival-goers, Mr. Sarantou promised, “will not be hungry.”

Dessert might include baklava, a popular honey-and-walnut-flavored treat; loukoumathes, deep-fried and honey-covered bites; or kourambiethes, the powdered sugar-covered cookies that longtime chairman George Sares considers his favorite. Mr. Sarantou said festival volunteers routinely sell out of these and other popular handmade pastries.

But there’s more to the festival than food, said Mr. Sarantou and Mr. Sares, who point also to the cultural and religious aspects. Local dancers, ranging from children to young adults, will perform throughout the weekend. And several presentations on art, language and the Greek Orthodox faith will enhance the cultural experience.

“People really attend these sessions and they love it,” Mr. Sarantou said. “Maybe you can read about it in a book or go online, but it’s another thing to have someone there talking about these cultural things.”

This year’s presentations include a “Modern Greek” language tutorial, led by Dawn Anagnos, at 8 p.m. Friday and again at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Reflections on “My Big Fat Greek Baptism,” led by parishioner and seminary alumnus David Mynihan, will be at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. And Father Legakis will lead tours of the cathedral at 6 p.m. Friday; 3:30, 5, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

New this year is a collaboration with the Toledo Museum of Art, where a current exhibit explores Hellenic art: The Berlin Painter and His World: Athenian Vase-Painting in the Early Fifth Century B.C. Adam Levine, associate director of the museum and its associate curator of ancient art, will speak on that exhibit at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the cathedral and on a coming exhibit, Glorious Splendor: Treasures of Early Christian Art, immediately afterward.

“We’re really proud that we get to partner with the museum and show people the wonderful art that came out of our tradition and culture,” Legakis said.

Visitors who present a Berlin Painter exhibit ticket dated Sept. 1-10 will be admitted to the festival free. Admission otherwise is $5 for adults after 3 p.m. Friday and on Saturday and $2 on Sunday. Children 12 years old and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Other popular features of the festival include children’s entertainment; a “kafenion,” offering Greek and American coffee and pastries; a “taverna,” offering domestic and imported wine and beer, as well as appetizer plates; and shopping at religious and cultural booths. A parishioner-produced cookbook featuring Greek and American recipes, Olives, Feta, Phyllo & More! will be among the items available for purchase.

Two Greek bands will provide a lively soundtrack to the weekend. The Windsor, Ont.-based Mythos plays Friday and Saturday evenings, while the Cleveland-based Olympus takes Sunday afternoon.

The festival runs 11 a.m. to midnight Friday, 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. Parking is $5 in an adjacent lot, at the Vistula Garage or throughout the neighborhood. For a full schedule of the weekend’s events, go to toledogreekfest.com.

Contact Nicki Gorny at: ngorny@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.

 

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