My Big Fat Greek Festival

Three years ago the sanctuary at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church was nearly destroyed by a fire. Witness its rebirth at the Greek Festival, which will run all weekend.

“Come hungry,” church president Stefanos Kariotis said, with a laugh. “If you leave hungry, it’s your own fault.”

Food is an integral part of Greek culture, which is permeated by the rhythms of the Greek Orthodox calendar.

“The church is that family, and everyone is a member,” said Lynette Kariotis, publicity chair for the festival.

Every year, that family grows by 20,000 people. They spill over the grounds of the church to enjoy live Greek bands and a DJ, enough food to choke a three-headed dog, Greek dancing and a bazaar that this year is the biggest they’ve ever had.

“They ended up turning away vendors this year because we ran out of room,” Lynette said. Authentic Greek items such as olive oil, pasta, coffee and tea will be on sale, along with the creations of artists and craftspeople. Adding to the anticipation is the daily raffle for gift baskets, DVDs and a television as big as the Parthenon. New this year is the children’s area with inflatable play equipment, arts and crafts and a rest area with nonstop kids’ movies and yia-yias (“grandmothers”) to watch over them.

Although the church is finalizing the last of its renovations, Lynette said that it would be completed in time for tours of the Byzantine style art and icons that grace its walls.

Don’t leave without tossing back a couple of glasses of Greek wine or coffee, both of which are enjoying an international resurgence in popularity. Opa!

The Greek Festival will run Oct. 13-15 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 953 Telfair St. Admission is free. Call 706-724-1087 or e-mail holytrinitygoc@bellsouth.net.

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