{mosimage}Sitting down to chat with Pete Skenteris was like listening to a favorite uncle or catching up with an old friend. He is the owner of the Haymont Grill, and a spaghetti dinner fundraiser volunteer with a fabulous way of bringing the flavor of Fayetteville’s past to life. He remembers the first spaghetti dinner like it was yesterday.  
    “We started 50 years ago with the late Pete Parrous. In those days we only had 30 or 35 families (in the Greek Orthodox Church congregation) and when we built the fellowship hall we didn’t have any money coming in. So anyways, Mr. Parrous came out and said he wanted to do something to help us raise money. So that is where we came up with the idea to make spaghetti — it was the cheapest thing we could do to make money. We started to make spaghetti and we’ve  gone all these years; we built the fellowship hall, we made the church, we built the education center. Of course a lot of this goes to charity too.” And yes, Skenteris noted, they still use the same recipe.
    Fayetteville, prepare your tastebuds.  On Wed. Nov. 19, from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.  the Hellenic Center is hosting it’s 50th Annual Spaghetti Dinner. Each meal costs $6 and includes spaghetti with meat sauce and a hard roll and cheese, so each one is a complete meal. “We do not only the spaghetti, but also the pastries. It is not just the worlds largest spaghetti sale but the worlds largest spaghetti and greek pastry sale;  lets correct that one” Skenteris laughed.  Pastry sales can add as much as $7000-$9000 dollars to the fundraiser. “It still goes to the church though, it goes to the Philoptochos Society — that stands for friends of the poor” he added.
    In the past, the funds have benefitted  organizations like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Some pastries to look forward to this year include Baklava, Finikia, Kaitaifi, Kourambiedes and Koularakia as well as home made breads and cakes. “They make thousands of pastries” Skenteris noted. This year there will be 60 pans of baklava prepared with each pan yielding 85 baklava pastries. No matter how you slice it, that is a lot of baklava. “These ladies been working hard making homemade breads, homemade cakes... they put in more time than the men” said Skenteris.
    Don’t be shy, there is always plenty to go around. In past years the church has served as many as 13,000 meals to the community in 10 hours. Preparation starts several days in advance. “Everybody pitches in, but when it comes to selling the spaghetti...Sunday through Wednesday night all of our volunteers are helping.” Each year, the cooks prepare 4,000 pounds of dried pasta, 1,000 gallons of sauce, 1,300 pounds of high-grade hamburger meat, 1,500 pounds of fresh onion, 400 pounds of grated Romano cheese and 13,000 rolls for the citizens of Fayetteville. The event is such a tradition that attempts to table the fundraiser have always been discarded — and quickly. “The spaghetti dinner, everybody enjoys......everybody likes it. We were going to stop it many times but we get at least 10-15 phone calls a week at the church ‘When you gonna have the spaghetti dinner?’”  said Skenteris. “In the meantime we were able to raise funds to do what we wanted to do and like I said we donate to charities” he added. 
    Come on out to the Hellenic Center at 614 Oakridge Ave. or call the church for more info at 484-8925. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
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