Be Greek for a day at the St. George Greek Festival
By the end of Greek Pride of Rhode Island’s traditional dance performance, the ground was littered with dollar bills tossed by fans young and old -- one of many traditions on display at the three-day Greek Festival.
Now in its ninth year, the St. George Greek Orthodox Church event drew crowds of people in mood for traditional Greek food, dance, and celebration, with live bands and plenty of home cooked sweets.
“If people are looking for a good time, come and be Greek for a day!” said Stephanie Sloan. “Enjoy the music, enjoy the food.”
It’s all about broadening people’s exposure to all things Greek.
“It’s a way of sharing Greek culture with everyone and celebrating Greek heritage,” festival chairperson Tony Martin said while cooking.
The festival was entirely staffed by volunteers from the church. Clover Lampos helped make pastries to serve.
“We make them all homemade,” Lampos said. “When we’re done, we say we can’t believe it.”
Pastries were made by the St. George Ladies Philoptochos Society. They prepare weeks in advance, and spent the final week in all-out baking mode. Pastries are traditional, although in recent years the group has let regional culture shape a new Portuguese-inspired chocolate-dipped patry.
“Baklava is the number one [pastry],” said Patricia X. Verronneau. “The whole world knows about baklava.”
In addition to food, Greek wares were also on sale. Tina Gaudette ran a raffle and sold goods including honey and bracelets to ward off evil spirits.
Greek heritage was not a requirement to enjoy the festival. Rick and Sue Bonnar of Rochester have been attending for the past three years.
“The food is delicious, and we’re not even Greek!” said Sue Bonnar, noting she and Rick were enjoying trying food from other cultures.
Alexia Tsonis and Alaina Legue, both 11, were running the loukoumades stand.
“It’s basically the Greek version of fried dough,” Tsonis said.
The girls took each delicately fried dumpling and dipped it in warm honey, before sprinkling it with cinnamon and walnuts and serving it hot to eager customers.
Both girls have been helping out at the festival for years. The festival is their favorite part of the year, and they both love to help out.
“In my opinion, no one’s Greek food is as good as my dad’s,” said Tsonis, with Legue’s agreement.
They both recommend gyro sandwiches to newcomers.
Tony Martin perhaps summed the event up the best: “It has great food! It has great music! The people are nice.”
The Greek Festival will continue at the church’s 186 Cross Rd. location on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Parking and entry are free. DJ Mrkos and his Bouzouki Band will play from 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday. The dancers from Greek Pride Rhode Island will perform at 4 p.m. on Saturday and at 1 and 3 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, go to http://festival.gosaintgeorge.com/.