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One big fat Greek festival offers all you need for Hellenistic acculturation. Fortunately for Sacramentans, the Sacramento Convention Center will host the 47th annual Sacramento Greek Festival this weekend to make this possible.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s Mike Dariotis has been involved in the event for 15 years and said his favorite part of the weekend is, first, the food; second, the folk dancing and then of course working together with the church community and fellow parishioners.
In recent years, the event has served around 10,000 people over the course of the three-day festival. So what is it about this event that brings both Greek and non-Greeks out?
The answer is simple: food.
Love’s universal language expresses itself at the festival through the sweet, flaky crunch of warm baklava, melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies (Kourambiedes) and Greek doughnut puffs (Loukoumathes).
When asked which was his favorite food at the event, Dariotis listed five. Past attendees have had a similar problem in deciding on just one.
Hundreds of volunteers from the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church sacrifice hours of time, resources and energy to share their culture with Sacramento. One can better understand the love put into the event by knowing that all food served at the festival is made from scratch by event volunteers.
The festival began when early Greek families in the community decided to share their culture in a celebratory manner with Sacramento.
Like any culture, Greek celebrations offer much more than food. The festival displays the fullness of Greek culture by providing folk dance performances, live music and a marketplace, selling imported goods from Greece.
San Jose-based Mythos Band has performed at the festival in years past, but has been absent for the last five festivals. The band’s co-founder and Bouzouki (Greek guitar) player, Bobby Kalivitis, said he is excited to return to the festival this year.
“If you go to the Greek festival you can get up and dance, be yourself and nobody is going to judge you.” Kalivitis said. “We are a very welcoming people.”
Mythos Band will perform traditional and contemporary Greek songs both Friday and Saturday.
Whether you’re Greek or not, Dariotis said people love the festival’s atmosphere, food, music and Greek culture.
General admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors (55 and older) and free for children under the age of 12. Admission is free between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday.
Funds raised from the event “are used for many different missions our Church serves and philanthropic organizations,” Dariotis said.
The festival is a one-stop shop for ouzo, spanakopita, cooking lessons, wine tasting and a Greek dance party; all the essentials for a very Greek weekend.
Photos courtesy of Mike Dariotis