Additional parking, expanded shuttle system, festival grounds highlight 48th annual event
The Original Greek Festival, a cornerstone of the fall festival season in Houston and one of the largest festivals of its kind in the nation, returns for its 48th year October 2-5, 2014. This year’s festival will feature delicious homemade Greek food, traditional Greek dancing, numerous shopping opportunities and the chance to learn more about the Greek Orthodox culture and faith. Over the four day period, more than 40,000 Houstonians are expected to attend the festival, held at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral Complex at 3511 Yoakum, near the Museum District.
Visitors to the 2014 Original Greek Festival will enjoy the convenience of free park and ride shuttle lots, plus expanded festival grounds and the ability to pay for food and drinks with credit cards. This year’s festival will also offer a selection of craft beers, including Karbach, St. Arnold’s, Goose Island, and Firestone Walker.
The Original Greek Festival is a family-oriented event, as Greek culture places a high value on both family and tradition. This philosophy is exemplified by Dana Kantalis, who serves as Chairman of this year’s festival along with Co-Chairmen Ted and Pauline Koinis. “When you grow up with the festival, it really becomes a part of who you are,” said Kantalis. “It takes a village to host an event of this magnitude and it gives me great pride to watch our whole community come together to make it happen year after year.” The entire Greek community gets involved to share their unique culture – from small children to the older church members, Kantalis said. “One of our eldest volunteers is 98 years old- she is not only actively involved in the preparations of the festival, but also works every day throughout the four day festival weekend.”
One of the chief lures of the Original Greek Festival is its delicious food, which is prepared by the parishioners of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in strict accordance with traditional recipes handed down from generation to generation. Popular items include souvlaki (seasoned and marinated tenderloin cubes), gyros, tiropita (cheese-filled puff pastry), spanakopita (spinach and cheese-filled puff pastry), and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). Greek pastries and desserts will also accompany the menu selection.
As dancing is a key component of Greek festivities and celebrations, a variety of Greek dance performances by groups of adults and children will take place throughout the festival schedule. Additionally, live Greek music will be provided by “The Golden Greek”, Alex Kalos, allowing festival patrons to practice their steps or learn Greek dancing. Families with youngsters may enjoy children’s activities, offered all four days of the festival at the Athenian Playground.
The festival’s Gifts and Imports Shop will feature Greek merchandise and imports such as jewelry, cookbooks, clothing, icons and religious items, as well as imported foods like olive oil, olives and even olive trees. Those interested in learning about the spiritual side of Greek culture will enjoy the opportunity to take cathedral tours, which will offer the history of Orthodox Christianity and the Annunciation Parish, as well as interactions with Cathedral clergy, who will explain the symbolism represented in the Byzantine-style cathedral. Additionally, handcrafted Byzantine iconography and art will be on display at the festival.
Organizers recommend that festival guests utilize the free shuttle service, which will operate from the Lamar High School West Student Parking Lot at 3325 Westheimer (between Buffalo Speedway and Kirby), and the City of Houston - Lot H (located at the corner of Memorial Dr. and Houston Ave.). This year, festival organizers are excited to announce additional premium buses, expanding their shuttle offerings to serve a greater number of patrons. The shuttle buses will run approximately every 15 minutes and deliver guests to the festival entrance. Handicapped-accessible buses will be available, as well as a handicapped-only parking lot, located at the northeast corner of Yoakum and Marshall.
Admission to the festival is $5 for adults, with children 12 and under admitted free. There is no charge for admission between 11:00am and 3:00pm on Friday. For more information, call 713-526-5377. or visit greekfestival.org.
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