By: Joanne Trikoulis
This June the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Community of Baltimore had one mission, to invite everyone from the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area to a “Panigiri” recreated in the GreekTown Square to “Eat. Drink. Dance. Like a Greek.” To the community’s delight, all their hard work was met and celebrated with visitors from all over the East Coast along with the Baltimoreans who look forward to the biggest Greek festival in Maryland, attracting approximately 25,000 visitors every year. Festival volunteers served up everything from Gyros and Souvlakia to Grilled Octopus and “Maridakia.” The appetizing smell of the lambs on the spit, rotisserie chickens, “Kontosouvli” and “Kokoretsi” made many smile in their anticipation to be served and reminded of beautiful times back in their villages in Greece. There were also traditional dishes served, such as Pastichio, Mousaka, Dolmades, Tyropites and Spanakopites. A special Vegetarian/ Vegan kitchen served delicious “Ladera” and meatless dishes for our vegetarian friends but also for those who were fasting, “Briam” and “Gigantes” were added to the menu. Greek desserts included Baklava, Galaktoboureko, Kantaifi as well as Baklava Ice Cream Sundays and the famous Loukoumades topped with either honey syrup or Nutella, accompanied by their choice of Greek Coffee or a Frappe, which perfectly completed everyone’s “Eat like a Greek” experience. Everyone then set off to “Drink like a Greek” with ice cold bottles of Greek Mythos Beer, great Greek Wines from the Ariousios Winery, Ouzo and Mastiha shots as well as Greek Island Inspired Cocktails such as the Santorini Sunrise and the Mykonos Passion Crush.
After, everyone was full of Greek “Kefi” and ready to kick off some heels, even sandals, and test their knowledge and spectator skills after watching St. Nicholas’ dance groups, the Hellenic Golden Coins, the Ellinakia and the Greek School Dancers which were accompanied all weekend by visiting dance groups from all the other Greek Church Communities of Maryland. Everyone “danced like a Greek” for four consecutive days to the music by Apollonia with special guest appearances on Friday by Petros Bekios and clarinet player Kosta Triantafillou, on Saturday, Thanos Tziovas and Panos Savvoulidis and Sunday on the Karpathian Lyra, Antonios Giorgakis and Laouto, Giannis Tsambounieris.
The festival would not have been complete without the many vendors offering beautiful authentic Greek jewelry, religious icons, art, and Greek gourmet products. Finally, the Ancient Greeks came full circle with the Modern Greeks, not only with the elegant presence of the young ladies dressed as Greek Goddesses leading visitors to every hidden piece of Greek Heaven being offered at the festival, along with the young Myrmidons from Pennsylvania but Zeus made a guest appearance, passing through with a small and brief thunderstorm on Sunday which may have cooled everyone off a little from the heat but not from the passion and desire to Eat. Drink. Dance. Like a Greek.
Photo Credits: Spiro Alafassos & Joanne Trikoulis