Each May, I realize how quickly time flies. I live near the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New Orleans and when the blue & white signage, white canopy tents, and colorful flags start springing up along Bayou St. John, I’m reminded that a year has gone by and it’s again time for the Greek Fest! This year the 43rd annual Greek Fest is celebrating those delicious stuffed grape leaves, Dolmades.
Three Days of Fun at the Greek Fest
I love this festival because, for a weekend, I’m reminded of a wonderful trip I took years ago to Greece…ahem…OK…decades ago! Everyone I encountered during my visit was friendly, generous, and entertaining! You’ll likely find that same spirit this weekend at the Greek Fest.
As you can imagine, a lot of work goes into producing a three-day festival that anticipates up to 25-thousand attending. Volunteers spend thousands of hours preparing the traditional Greek pastries and savory dishes that fest-goers have come to expect.
Volunteers Make it Happen
2016 Greek Fest Chairperson, Ginny Zissis, gave me a behind the scene look at food prep for this year’s Greek Fest.
When I visited, Dinner Chairperson, Loukia Christakis, and committee member, Anthoula Malachias, were preparing the Greek meatballs that along with pastitsio, stuffed grape leaves, and Greek salad, make up the Greek Dinner plate.
Christakis’ mother travels from Greece to lovingly make sure her daughter prepares the dish according to the traditional recipe. And what’s a Greek Fest without gyros, souvlaki, and rotisserie lamb? You’ll find those for sure!
After dinner, dessert! How about a baklava sundae? This Greek Fest favorite is so popular it has its own dedicated chairperson, Vickie Catsulis. Catsulis makes trays of the traditional treat.
The pastry is make up of phyllo layers filled with chopped nuts, spices, and honey.
There are plenty of other Greek sweets and treats available. All generations come together to form an assembly line to box the pastries for sale.
Feel Like You’re in Greece for the Weekend
You can shop at a Greek grocery stocked with cheeses, dips, spices, olives, and homemade Greek bread for sale.
After all of that delicious food you’ll want to get moving to the live music. You can also enjoy performances by the Hellenic Dancers and take a tour of the beautiful Cathedral. And there’s a special play area provided for the kids.
You’ll be able to celebrate with traditional ouzo, plus beer and wine. Speaking of wine, Chairperson Zissis, says, “As the evening approaches, grab a bottle of wine, something to eat, relax along Bayou St. John, and listen to the live music. It’ll feel like you’re in Greece”! Yes indeed…and if you’re lucky, that feeling will stay with you until 2017.
Please visit www.greekfestnola.com for the full festival schedule and parking & shuttle information.