Feast Day for all
Assumption holds its annual festival of Greek food and culture
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrate Greek culture no matter what your heritage at Manchester’s Assumption Greek Orthodox Church’s annual GreekFest 2009 on Saturday, Aug. 22, and Sunday, Aug. 23. What was once a small church picnic has grown into a weekend event full of Greek food, music and fun.
GreekFest is an outgrowth of the church’s annual parish picnic, held in celebration of the Aug. 15 Feast Day, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which follows a 15-day religious period of fasting and special worship services in celebration of the Virgin Mary. The picnics began in 1936, and then were changed in 1991 to a two-day festival that’s open to the public.
“I can’t tell you exactly how many visitors we had last year, but it’s believed that we had at least 5,000 people and possibly up to 7,000,” church member Sophia Annas said.
The advance preparations include 1,200 pounds of lamb, 1,000 kourambiethes (butter cookies covered with powdered sugar), 270 dozen koulourakia (twisted butter cookies with sesame seeds), and 65 large trays of spinach peta (spinach pie), each with three pounds of filo dough, four and a half pounds of spinach, three pounds of feta cheese, a dozen eggs, one large onion and about one pound of butter.
Annas said the dinners will include barbecued lamb, roast chicken, pastichio, meatballs with sauce, and stuffed grape leaves.
“We are also serving spinach pita, rice, salad, and rice pudding with the dinners,” Annas said. The Sandwich Shop will feature lamb pockets, veggie pockets, and gyro pockets. Freshly grilled souvlaki (pork) and loucanico (Greek sausage) will also be available. Desserts include baklava, finikia, kourambiethes, galactoboureko and koulourakia. All of the food and pastry is homemade, except for the meatballs.
Greek music by DJ Meleti will run all day Saturday, and on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 2:30 pm. The Kostas Taslis Orchestra will take over on Sunday and play from 2:30 until 7 p.m.
Kids’ activities include face painting and a clown. There will be tours of the church, some crafts, and a table of Greek religious and ethnic items manned by parishioners. Vendors include Eileen’s Jewelry, Satellite TV, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Timeless Treasures, and Art of the Lands.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.