By Kylie Fields, Copy Editor
One of Savannah’s most popular cultural festivals, the Savannah Greek Festival, was in full swing this past weekend at St. Paul’s Hellenic Center, wrapping up Sunday, Oct. 11. While the festival offers church tours and a vendor courtyard, the largest crowds flock to the Hellenic Center’s gym.
Surrounding the gym, patrons with trays in hand weaved through various chutes in pursuit of several Greek foods. Volunteers served an expansive menu that included traditional dishes such as lamb gyros and meatballs. More adventurous attendees could choose from options like dolmades: rice, beef and herbs wrapped in grape leaves.
“The festival is an awesome chance to experience a culture and culture of food that is hard to experience in a small town like Savannah,” said senior economics major Vincent Haines. “It’s cool we can share and experience their heritage.”
Zoe, an adult dance troupe, performed in the Center’s gym throughout the weekend. GOYA, the teenage dance troupe, as well as Ta Pethia, the children’s troupe, performed for patrons in the bustling gym as well.
Co-chair of the event, Jimmy Stevens, also explained to Do Savannah new aspects of the festival to debut this year. “Souvlaki (similar to a gyro but with pork or chicken rather than traditional lamb) is a new food item this year and we also made more room for people to sit down and enjoy eating in the courtyard this year.”
Other new aspects this year included the option of online ordering. Savannahgreekfest.com offered patrons the option to order ahead, pay online, then pick up their meal from the Center for carry out.
Sophomore computer science major Alex Macon was among the several college students to turn out for the festival. “It’s almost overwhelming in the gym,” he explained. “Between the food, dancing, and loud music… it’s a lot.”
Food largely remains the most talked-about aspect of the festival. Macon stated, “I used the carry-out option. We bought the souvlaki, greek meatballs, gyro, baklava and spanakopita…. I’ve been a few times, but being able to take it home was a nice change.”
Alum Reese Shellman attended the festival Friday afternoon. “The festival is something that my family and I have attended for many years. We each have certain things we love to order there that we can’t find anywhere else without making them ourselves. I’d much rather go enjoy them with my friends while listening to Greek music,” he said.
Planning for the next festival begins only weeks after the current one ends and proceeds from the events go toward Savannah area charities. Savannah residents and their families are already counting the days until next year’s 66th Greek Festival.