The Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church present the 29th Annual Greek Festival Friday, Sept. 13, through Sunday, Sept. 15, at 614 Oakridge Ave., in the heart of Haymount.
The festival will take place Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday from noon-6 p.m.
Greece is a country that is rich in history, culture, traditions and religion. Greeks are proud of their rich culture and take pride in the contributions they have made to the world. “The purpose of the Greek Festival is to share our Greek culture with Fayetteville — it is our way of giving back to the Fayetteville community,” said Dina Goodson, co-chair of the Greek Fest. “We have a long relationship with the Fayetteville community that has been phenomenal, and they have been very supportive of our church and every endeavor we’ve ever undertaken.”
Goodson added the festival is a way for the Greek Orthodox congregation in Fayetteville to share their faith, food, culture, music and everything that is Greek. And it is a way for the community to learn about and enjoy Greek culture, food, traditions and more.
“We believe so strongly in making the most of every day, of enjoying life to the fullest and sharing with one another whatever it may be,” Goodson said. “I am going back to simple times of my parents’ generation of sharing a glass of water, a piece of bread and when people believed in helping one another through life.”
She continued, “We enjoy good times, and we are with those when they are going through difficult times. We are just a loving and warm community that wants to lend a helping hand when needed.”
Easter is the biggest and most important holiday in the Greek tradition. “Our church is the center of our life. That is how important our church is to us,” said Goodson. “The two main things that are important to us are religion and the family unit, so we instill those values in our children’s lives.”
The Greek diet is one that nutritionists have touted as healthy. It’s delicious, too. And there will be plenty of it at the Greek Festival. The most popular Greek food is the gyro. Greek food and drinks are known for both their quality and taste.
“We can enjoy our food and have a glass of wine or beer without it being a problem,” said Goodson. “People are most familiar with our fun food such as gyro sandwiches, Greek lamb plates, chicken lemonato plate with Greek rice, spanakopita, eight different pastries and foods you have not heard of. Nearly one half of one side of our church hall is going to be devoted to our Greek pastry area.”
The Greek community loves to dance and perform traditional dances. This is a fun a lively component of the Greek Festival each year. “Two children’s dance troupes will be in full authentic Greek costumes and they will perform the traditional Greek dances,” said Goodson.
Authentic Greek music brings the island atmosphere to the event. “We are going to have our outside band, Nick Trivelas and A Night in Athens Trio, perform this year,” said Goodson. “They are a dynamic, exciting and energetic band who puts on a good performance. They will be outside in the main tent.”
The most famous musical instrument from Greece is the bouzouki. “Inside there will be a bouzouki player,” said Goodson. “He has his own band, but he is coming by himself to be a soloist.”
The festival will host church tours led by Father Alexander Papagikos. There will be a raffle for two round trip tickets to Greece and cash prizes. There will be various vendors as well as a children’s area called the Athenian Playground, featuring a train that will travel around the perimeter of the church parking lot. There will also be bounce houses and more.
Gusts over 21 can enjoy authentic Greek wines and beers. Another favorite that Goodson is excited about is the ever-popular cooking classes If Greek cuisine is something you want to learn more about, there will be one class on Friday evening, two Saturday and one Sunday afternoon.
If shopping sounds like a good time, don’t miss the vendor area. “There will be many vendors, and we will have a nationally known Greek artist who does beautiful paintings of the mainland and especially the islands,” said Goodson. “A lot of us have his paintings in our homes because his pictures are phenomenal. We are so excited to have him back.”
Goodson also noted that on the church patio, which is known as the plateia, there will be an alternate dining area for individuals to enjoy from 6:30-10 p.m. “So people can choose to take their food from the main tent,” said Goodson. “This is an area where we will be serving appetizer plates and the music is quieter.” The appetizer plates include spanakopita, feta cheese, dolmades, tzatziki, Kalamata olives, tomatoes and pita bread points.
“We will also have a Greek grocery store called a bakaliko,” said Goodson. “We are going to sell all kinds of items. We have added about 20 new items to the store.”
Goodson added they will also have icons for sale such as the Saints, Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary. “Every year, we normally have three Greek vendors inside. This year, we have doubled it to six vendors,” said Goodson. “We are going to have a lot more going on inside. People will see jewelry, paintings, cards and all types of Greek souvenirs.”
The proceeds from the festival will be donated to various organizations. “Among the charities that we give to (are the) Autism Society, Boys and Girls Club, The Red Cross, Operation Inasmuch, The Vision Resource Center and The Salvation Army,” said Goodson. “Some of our proceeds will also go towards our building renovation project, which is currently underway.
“We encourage everyone to come out and enjoy our Greek festival,” said Goodson. “We just want to give back to the city of Fayetteville.”
The festival is free and open to the public. For more information, call 910-484-2010.