The Rapidian

Greek Festival gives city a taste of Greece

Orthodox church brings Greek food, wine and dancing in late August.
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A Greek dancer shows an old tradition

A Greek dancer shows an old tradition /Motely Cat Studio

On August 24-26, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church will be hosting a Greek cultural festival called “Yassou!” The three day weekend will feature live music, dancing and authentic Greek food.

Dancing will be done by the church’s own youth dancers. Dancing is traditionally performed at most social functions, such as Easter and harvests. The dancers will be wearing traditional Greek dresses during their performance. Spectators will be given a chance to try a Greek dance. The dancers range from 8 years of age to mid-20s. The dancers will also be performing at the B.O.B.’s Let’s Toga for the Special Olympics.

Authentic Greek food will be served at the festival. The food is sorted into five categories: Off the Flames, Grecian Grill, Grecian Grill dinners, Gleka (pastries) and a Kids Menu. Foods will include gyros, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), lamb shank, loukoumades (sweet fried pastry) and hot dogs. Food is available either as a meal or a la carte. Meals range from $5 to $14.

Greek and Michigan beer and wine will be made available at Taverna. The Greek wines Kouros and Kourtaki and Michigan award-winning St. J Riesling wine will be available.

Detroit based Greek band The Levendes will be performing open to close on Friday and Saturday. The band plays a Greek and American music mixture. Founding member Peter Alexander plays the bouzouki (which is somewhat similar to a mandolin) brought in from Greece. The band has been playing together for 25 years and each member has an average of 23 years on stage.

A tent for children will include face painting inflatables, sundaes and games.

The church is seeking out volunteers to help at the event. Volunteers have to sign up early and will be given a free t-shirt at check-in. Returning volunteers are asked to use their shirts from prior years. Children as young as 8 are welcome to volunteer. A parent must accompany volunteers under the age of 11.

“I’m looking forward to sharing our culture with the Grand Rapids community. It’s amazing how many people say they felt like they were in Greece for the weekend,” says chair member Esther Koukios.

This is the third year the church is putting on the festival. The attendance for the first year was 6,000, the following year was 8,000 and the projected attendance level for this year is 10,000. The price of admission is two dollars.

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