Opa! Greek Festival Showcases Traditions


Greek Fest

OPA: A Greek word that may be used as an exclamation; a word or pronouncement of celebration, celebration of life itself. It is a way of expressing joy and gratitude to God, life and others for bringing us into the state of ultimate wisdom; a humorous affirmation that you’re the best, that you’re where you’re supposed to be, and that you need to stop and celebrate.

Based on the above definition, Opa! is the perfect word to describe the Greek Festival that was held in June on the grounds of Grand Blanc’s Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. Attendees found their senses tantalized by the mouth-watering aromas of grilled chicken and lamb, honey-soaked pastries, as well as lively Greek music and the pageantry of traditional dancing. Although the weather was very warm and humid, it didn’t stop hundreds of people from enjoying the event.

Temptingly displayed under one tent was tray after tray of Greek pastries: delicate confections made with an abundance of honey, nuts and fruits. Women stood over a fry-pot filled with hot, bubbling oil making Loukoumade – tiny, deep-fried dough balls that are soaked in honey syrup and then covered with cinnamon or nuts. Mary Kottalis busily made traditional Greek coffee in a briki – a small, long-handled pot made of brass or copper. She added finely ground coffee beans and sugar to water. After the coffee sank to the bottom and the sugar dissolved, she placed the briki on a gas burner and cooked the coffee until a ring of foam formed on the top. It was then poured into cups and served to festival-goers who enjoyed its sweet, rich flavor.

In a huge white tent, Greek dinners were served to those seeking to savor authentic delicacies. Several volunteers spent hours cooking tasty Greek favorites such as Moussaka, a layered eggplant dish of seasoned ground beef, potatoes and cheese in a cream sauce; and Pastitsio, a layered macaroni dish with herbed tomato sauce and ground beef topped with béchamel sauce. Other favorites included Dolmades – traditional stuffed grape leaves – and Spanakopita, baked layers of philo dough flavored with dill and stuffed with spinach, feta cheese and green onion.

The Greek Festival isn’t just about the food; family members and friends gather to socialize and celebrate their heritage. Older gentlemen dressed in finery greeted each other with a hug, a pat on the back and a kiss on each cheek. Families ate together while enjoying entertainment provided by The Levendes, a group that performed Traditional and Modern Greek music with a unique flair. In traditional costume, various groups dazzled attendees with some of the hundreds of Greek folk dances, each a beautiful expression of Greek history and culture.

Yes, the Greek Festival made every attendee apt to shout, “Opa!”


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