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Throngs of people will gather on the grounds of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral this weekend in Wormleysburg for the 47th annual Greek Festival.

It takes a dedicated group of volunteers to ensure that everything goes without a hitch for the annual festival, which runs Friday through Sunday. Volunteers began gathering on Tuesdays in March to work on the bonanza of baked goods from the honey-filled, nut-studded baklava, to the buttery cookies and pastries.

Two weeks prior to the event, the group clears its calendar every day to ensure that all the sweet treats are ready for the thousands of visitors who will converge upon the church to, as the organizers say, “get their Greek on.”

Linda Mallios, who has been lending a hand since Greekfest’s inception, said the event has come a long way from the modest bake sale and luncheon in the 1950s.

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46th Annual Capitol Region Greek Festival
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46th Annual Capitol Region Greek Festival
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46th Annual Capitol Region Greek Festival
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46th Annual Capitol Region Greek Festival
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46th Annual Capitol Region Greek Festival

“Later on, the moussaka was made at the Sunnyside,” she said, referring to the former restaurant she and her husband, Nick, operated in Carlisle.

Space

As the festival grew, so did the production space. These days the volunteers work out of the church’s industrial kitchen, using the spacious gymnasium to prepare treats assembly-line style.

Guests this weekend can choose to eat either inside or outside, beneath a large tent set up each year specifically for the festival. Many line up outside to purchase souvlaki, gyros, calamari, flaming Greek cheese (which is always a show stopper), baklava sundaes and more.

Inside, visitors can choose from the layered eggplant and ground sirloin specialty called moussaka, to roast chicken, spinach pie, Greek salad, gyros and souvlaki, the popular braised lamb shanks. There will also be an array of pastries sold either individually or packaged in assortment boxes.

“Baklava is the most popular sweet,” Mallios said. “We made 18,000 pieces, and they will sell out.”

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A new item for sale this year is an organic extra virgin olive oil called ArgoLadi. “We wanted to bring in a great, quality olive oil for Greekfest this year,” said parishioner David Phelps, who helped import the award-winning product.

Those who prefer to buy now and enjoy later can purchase frozen pans of moussaka, pastitsio, spanakopita and tiropita, as well.

Shopping

After eating and drinking, guests can shop for a variety of items like apparel, accessories, crafts, jewelry and more. Church tours will also be available at no charge.

“We want to welcome everyone — not just to the festival, but also into our beautiful cathedral during their visit,” Rev. Michael Varvarelis said.

And last, but not least, is the entertainment. Returning again this year are the Olympic Flame Dancers who don colorful costumes and perform traditional dances in front of the cathedral several times each day during the event.

Patrons of the festival can be assured that their money goes to a good cause. Philoptochos, meaning “friends of the poor,” is the philanthropic group that uses festival proceeds to make charitable contributions. Money received by the group goes to both national and local groups, such as Bethesda Mission, New Hope Ministries and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

Dimitri Zozos, longtime volunteer and past coordinator, is pleased to see the event grow larger each year, but he’s not surprised that it generates so much enthusiasm around the area.

“It’s a cultural celebration that is ideal for the entire family, and besides, we make the best food this side of Athens,” he said.

To learn more, visit the website at www.PAGreekFest.com.

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