Festival offers Greek delights

What started as a bake sale, hosted by The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, has now evolved into one of Tallahassee’s most popular fall events: the Greek food festival.

The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society’s main mission is community outreach and philanthropy. All Orthodox Christian women over the age of 18, and members of the parish, are encouraged to join.

Held Oct. 23 and 24, members of the Philoptochos Society noticed the large turnouts from their bake sale, so they began to incorporate a variety of foods, as well as music and fashion which evolved into the now annual Greek food festival.

This event draws more than a thousand guests annually. Guests enjoy Greek food, wine tasting, entertainment and fashion.

Visitors sang and danced as the live Greek band, Nikos and a Night in Athens played a variety of Grecian music.

The smell of the authentic Gyros, seasoned beef served on pita bread, Souvlaki, lean cubed pork on skewers, and of course

Greek fries, fill the air and stomachs of many.

“I love the food, the Gyros are the best,” said Jack O’Brien, a second-year festival spectator. Many embrace the culture of Greece as well as, the authentic foods and Greek traditions.

Many visitors of the festival look forward to the event every year. The food is prepared by many of the church parishioners with recipes that have been passed down verbally through generations. This highly anticipated event brings out the Greek inside of everyone.

“I’ve attended this event every year since I was in college at FAMU, it is more of a tradition for me,” said Chene Olar, a FAMU alumnae.

Beside the food and entertainment, the church allowed visitors from the event to tour the sanctuary. Members from The Holy Mother of God Greek Orthodox church gave visitors insightful information about the ancient traditions of the Orthodox Christian faith. 

The mission of the church is to promote charitable, benevolent and philanthropic outreach. Members allowed spectators do the same. Funds raised from the event  are used for a good cause.

“Some of the proceeds from the event are donated to a local charity and also for people in need,” said Harriett Kanelidis, Greek food festival coordinator.

Local organizations such as the Refuge House, ECHO Outreach Ministers, Children’s Home Society of Florida and many other local programs have donations from this annual event.

As night fell, the entertainment continued. The Hellenic Greek dancers performed traditional Greek dances as well as sang traditional Greek songs.
Men, women and children sang, clapped their hands and generally enjoyed the event.

“This was my first time at the food festival. I did not know what to expect, the food was great and the atmosphere was even greater,” said Cynecia Manning, a first-time festival participant. “Everyone was there to share and experience Greek culture.”