By: Christy Means-Smith | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: September 2009
Volunteers prepare finikia, honey-dipped cookies, for the 49th annual Greek Festival. (Pictured clockwise): Connie Matthews, Peggy Belbas, Patty D’Onofrio, Nancy Andrew and Sandy Pisias.
A Greek festival is more than just a good time; it is a display of tradition and culture as well as entertainment and food. At Tulsa’s Greek Festival, patrons will enjoy Greek folk music and dancing, exhibitions, imported Greek souvenirs, and of course, plenty of delicious Greek food. Hosted by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and now celebrating its 49th year, this much anticipated party is Tulsa’s oldest ethnic festival.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Greeks in Tulsa to present a glimpse of Greek culture; for three days, you can get a taste of being in a Greek village or town,” says festival chair Demetrius Bereolos. “We are now seeing second and third generations involved in the festival, especially in baking and dances. This is an excellent way to be exposed to the history and tradition of Greece.”
In addition to the performances, there is dancing that is open to the public for anyone who wants to try their hand at it – or their foot, as it were. The dances are typically performed in groups, and experienced dancers lead the new. The dancing is one of the drawing strengths of the festival and all participants, whether seasoned or just beginning to learn, have a great time. “The dancers range from ages 5 to 55, and some of the dance groups are made up of volunteers who change into Greek costumes to perform before going back to work their booths,” Demetrius explains.
Naturally, the expectation of mouthwatering food brings people in droves to the Greek Festival. Authentic entrees and appetizers on hand include shish kabobs, calamari, lamb wraps, gyros, cheese pies, dolmades, feta cheese and kalamata olives, Greek salad, spinach pies and, of course, delicious Greek pastries.
“The bakery will include a hallmark of Greek pastries – very sweet, intended to be served with strong Greek coffee, which will also be at the festival,” says Demetrius. “Cooking and baking is done by volunteers from the parish – they bake through most of summer, and everything is homemade.”
The festival is organized by the local church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox, and is hosted by volunteer church members. Because religion plays a great role within the culture, Holy Trinity’s bookstore will be open to the public, and guided tours will be conducted. There will also be imported Greek items, gifts and jewelry available for purchase.
The Greek Festival will take place Thursday, September 24 through Saturday, September 26 at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church at 1206 S. Guthrie (between Denver and Houston Streets in downtown Tulsa). The festival times are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, and 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. For more information, call (918) 583-2082 or visit their website at www.holytrinity.ok.goarch.org.