Annual festival takes visitors on a culinary tour of Greece
HUNTINGTON — Young and old of all backgrounds can transfer to the beautiful islands of Greece this weekend without any admission charges, a passport or even leaving Huntington’s Southside.
Hellenic culture, century-old traditions and the Orthodox faith connect for the 31st annual Greek Festival Friday-Sunday, Sept. 27-29, at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 701 11th Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The festival-goers first stop should be the Pastry Shop, where one may fill the tummy (and load up enough for the freezer) with the baklava, koulouria (twist cookie), kourambiethes (powdered sugar, melt-in-your-mouth cookie) and kok, a new pastry (small cake topped with strawberry, chocolate or lemon filling).
“If you cannot make up your mind, a variety box is available for $12,” said Gloria Hanna, church member and festival worker.
“A total of 500 boxes are prepared and they usually sell out by Saturday morning,” Hanna said.
A great deal of preparation goes into this event. Probably the most strenuous job of all departments begins back in the early summer organizing and preparing for a number of the pastries by Dee Butler, Nancy Skirpan and Sylvia Baker, committee chairpersons.
“We have prepared 125 commercial-size pans of baklava, 2,000 pear cookies, 72 delicious nut rolls and sweet breads,” said Butler.
“Our priest’s wife, Patti Elliott, has single-handed made 4,000 kouloria,” Hanna said.
Lamb or chicken dinner, pastichio (baked casserole with ground beef and macaroni), moussaka (casserole of ground beef, eggplant and potatoes topped with a creamy cheese sauce) may be chosen from the menu downstairs in the social hall. Cheese (tiropita) or spinach (spanakopita) triangles, hummus and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) may also be added. Greek beer and wines are also available.
“If you look inside to the kitchen, you can see Tena Karnes, Tito Svingos and Ron Smith cranking out those delectable entrees,” said Hanna.
Gyros and Greek fries, roasted lamb, Greek-styled pizza, souvlaki (skewered pork or chicken), baklava sundaes or Greek coffee are sold outside the church.
Church youth dressed in costume native to different islands of Greece dance to live music performed by the group, Neo Ehos, all three days. George Alexandropoulos may also be found in the midst wearing his foustanella, a traditional costume for men and the national costume for Evzones, president guard.
Fr. Mark Elliott conducts tours of the church at various times throughout the weekend.
The last stop of the three-day event is browsing the Gift Shop, where there is a selection of jewelry, cookbooks, aprons, incense, soaps and honey made by monks of Holy Cross Monastery of Wayne, W.Va., as well as other Grecian items, to be purchased.
More information may be obtained by calling the church, 304-522-7890, or visiting www.stgeorgehwv.org/festival.
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