Fest gives a bite of Greece

Festivalgoers experienced Greek culture, food, wine, dance and music without maxing out their credit cards or dealing with jet lag at the 42nd annual Greek Festival, hosted by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

The festival, normally held in October, was pushed to November because of the havoc Hurricane Ike caused the city and Gulf Coast.

The time allowed the Gulf Coast to recover and gave festival planners time to regroup. The Cathedral went without power for a week and buses normally used for shuttling festival attendees were used to support FEMA.

Despite Ike, the Greek community still managed to put together a Greek festival just as great as the previous years.

The festival included activities for individuals and families, such as Cathedral tours, viewing religious artifacts and icons, Annunciation Orthodox School Exhibit and an Athenian playground for the children.

There was also Greek folk dancing, music and a gift shop that featured many Greek items such as olive trees, olive oil, snacks, jewelry and handmade goods from artisans.

Probably one of the most popular aspects of the festival was its authentic Grecian food such as souvlaki, gyro and pastries such as baklava, kourambiedes, finikia, koulourakia and loukoumades.

For just $10 festivalgoers could get a dinner plate that comes with pastitsio (baked macaroni with beef filling and Romano cheese topped with b’eacute;chamel sauce), tiropita (triangular-shaped cheese filled pastry), spanakopita (spinach and Feta cheese rolled in filo) soutzoukaki (Greek flavored meat roll), and salata (traditional Greek salad with seasonings, vinegar, olive oil and Feta cheese, garnished with olives, tomato and a salad pepper), according to the festival Web Site.

Wine lovers were in luck because the festival offered bottles of wine for $20-$30, which was perfect to share with a group of friends, or a single glass for $5.

For many festivalgoers it was about the food, culture, atmosphere and the coming together of a community, but for others it was more than that.

Greek Festival derived contributions have been used to the benefit of many Houston-area charities, such as Children’s Assessment Center, S.E.A.R.C.H, the Women’s Home, Covenant House, Texas Emergency Aid Coalition and the Star of Hope Mission.

When a handful of Greek immigrants came to the Houston area in 1917 they formed what has been, to this day, one of the largest Greek Orthodox communities in the United States, according the the festival Web Site. The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral has been a major force in both the religious and social communities of Houston today.

The Greek Festival was held at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral complex, located near downtown and the Museum District.

A portion of the proceeds from the Festival were donated to Hurricane Ike relief efforts. If you missed it this year, be sure to mark your calendars and plan to attend next year and enjoy the fascinating culture of Greece.

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