Greek festival returns

Hundreds gathered at Holy Mother of God Greek Orthodox Church this weekend for the Tallahassee Greek Food Festival. The festival featured an array of Greek cuisine, music, dancing, and shopping and has grown to be a Tallahassee favorite.

 With food booths that consisted of traditional Greek pastries, frozen foods and ala-carte, the event proved to be successful.

Phil Pettijohn, a volunteer and member of the church since 1972, said the unique foods featured at the event are what make it special. Pettijohn recommended “moussaka,” a casserole layered with eggplant, ground sirloin and cheese topped with a béchamel white sauce.

“It is by far, one of my favorite dishes,” he said.

Pettijohn said the festival has been a great opportunity for the church, because it’s one of its largest fundraisers. It also aims to enlighten the surrounding community on Greek culture.  

Harriet Mixon, coordinator of the Greek Food Festival, revealed that the event originally started off as a bake sale over 25 years ago. Since then, it has manifested into what is seen today.

Mixon said she is satisfied with the festival’s success.

“Hands down, the appreciation from the community of the culture is truly the most rewarding outcome of the festival,” Mixon said.

Among the individuals who attended the festival this year was Desiree Nero, who heard about the event from a coworker, and decided that she wanted to see what it was all about.

Nero said the experience was so authentic, she felt as if she were in Greece herself.

Nero said her favorite dish was the baklava, a Greek pastry layered with buttered filo and ground pecans with sweet syrup.

 Along with the different food booths, vendors also sold Greek jewelry, hats and other various merchandise. The festival also featured a live Greek band along with dancers who invited people to join in on the fun. 

Mary Duvloris, owner of Ricamo International Importer Silver Jewelry and Accessories, has participated in the festival for two years. Traveling from Atlanta, Duvloris admitted the festival is well worth the wait.

“It’s amazing to me, to come out here and see people not of the Greek culture partaking in what I do on a daily basis,” she said. “In Greece, we believe in a close knit family.”

Duvloris asked festival attendees to try a gyro, which is thinly sliced seasoned beef served on pita bread with onions, chopped tomatoes, and tzaziki, which is a traditional greek dairy-based condiment. 

The festival has undoubtedly become a staple in the capital city and organizers of the event are sure it will be here for many years to come.