March 1st marked the first day of many in the weeks to come which the faithful of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Hamilton, NJ came together to prepare for their 44th Annual Greek Festival that took place on May 16-19, 2019. Over the course of those +11 weeks, parishioners and friends of the Church united whether it was reading the property; preparing what some say the best Greek cuisine they have ever had; practicing traditional Greek dance; putting up signs and lights; ordering supplies, selling raffle tickets, and the much more that is needed as you can imagine presenting such a spectacular event.
Volunteers of all ages joined in unison making THOUSANDS of pieces of dessert; Hundreds of trays of savory delights; and everything else that is homemade just like Yia Yia would make, which included that special ingredient of love and laughter. The countless hours of working in the hot kitchen; standing over the hot outside grills, preparing succulent gyros and souvlaki – yes, a popular part of the venue – sent wonderful swirling aromas around the exterior and interior grounds. All this and more were awaiting over 5,000 attendees who have anticipated all year for this miraculous community event to open its doors and grills. There was so much anticipation that lines formed every day even before the official start times. Passing rains could not keep people away.
The extraordinary success of such an event comes to fruition when stewards come forward however they may in providing their time, treasures and talents. This resounding successful festival is a combination of all the volunteers of all ages, and the gleeful acknowledgment from guests enjoying the dancers; music, food and the traditional welcome they received from this St. George family. To one and all a heartfelt thank you is extended. They will take a break, but indeed with bells and whistles, will be ready and waiting for next year to present a taste of Greece for all to enjoy.
Photos courtesy of Martha Taweel.