It started as a family picnic, but through the years the event grew into a food festival for the community. It is put on each year for two reasons – to educate the community on Greek culture and faith and to give back with a charitable contribution. The Rev. Paul Kaplanis said the biggest amount of the donation goes to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“Everyone started inviting their friends and family to this picnic and it evolved into a food festival,” Kaplanis said.
“I think the perspective from the people coming to it is the food comes first, people really enjoy eating the Greek food and the pastries and the entertainment comes next.”
The festival co-chairman Ted Kipreos said this weekend is a great way to experience what it is like to be Greek for the day. He said volunteers not only come from this parish but from other Greek Orthodox churches in the area.
Kaplanis said more than 1,000 volunteers from the community help prepare the food for the festival. He said they expect to have 25,000 to 30,000 attend the event.
“It is not only the three and a half days where the volunteers are working here but several months of preparation,” Kaplanis said. “The thing we love about it is it gives people within the parish a chance to work with someone they normally do not get to see.”
During the food preparation week, the volunteers formed an assembly line as they put together souvlaki plates. One volunteer weighed the meat and placed it in bowls for others to insert the pork on the skewers.
Kipreos said volunteers hand rolled 30,000 koulouria, a sweet pastry twisted for its shape. Other sweet treats include more than 50,000 pieces of baklava, almond crescents, flogeres, galatobwouriko, kataifi, kourabiedes and melomacarona.
Besides pastries, other traditional Greek dishes will include moussaka, pastitsio and lamb. Organizers also added a new plate to the menu this year – beef kapama.
Along with the food, the festival will feature vendors from around the country in the educational building, 30-minute tours of the church and traditional Greek dances.
If you go:
When: Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Greek Orthodox Cathedral 2500 Clairmont Road, Atlanta
Cost: Adults $5 and children 12 and under are free