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Opa! Grecian Food Festival Returns to Wheeling This Month

WHEELING — The parishioners of St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church in Wheeling will welcome the community to their 20th Annual Grecian Food Festival July 28-31.

The popular community festival celebrating Greek heritage and delectable cuisine will take place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. that week on Wednesday through Saturday.

The authentic food, electric atmosphere and the contagious hospitality makes this festival one that no one wants to miss. Festival organizers said there is something for everyone to enjoy, and the parishioners look forward to sharing their faith, food and fun with everyone.

“It’s our hope that you all have a wonderful experience at our annual food festival, and that you will enjoy the various virtues that shine through our parish community at such an event — our zeal for the gift of life, our love of fellowship and our hospitality to our neighbors,” Gus Kayafas, festival manager, said.

The festive outdoor setting on Chapline Street allows visitors to enjoy a fresh gyro, tavern fries, wings or chicken kabobs.

The youth of the local Greek community prepare golden fried honey puffs, lemonade and baklava sundaes by day and by night. The Agape Dancers will perform daily the exciting and colorful dances from various regions of Greece to live authentic Greek music provided by an Ohio Valley favorite, “The Greek Company.”

In addition to outdoor activities, available upstairs in our Hellenic Center Hall there will be a variety of festival favorites such as pastitsio, moussaka, spanakopita, stuffed grape leaves and greek village salad, along with a wide selection of homemade delicious Greek pastries. Flavorful food items — only authentic to the Greek culture — are being offered.

Vendors will also be on hand which will allow guests to bring home a piece of Greece.

“Our greatest desire is to share the beauty of our Orthodox Christian Faith with every single one of you,” Kayafas said. “When you visit the food festival, please consider learning more about the Orthodox Christian Church by visiting our bookstore, participating in one of our church tours, listening-in on one of our liturgical chant demonstrations, and, of course, conversing with Fr. Demetrios if you have any questions.”

The sanctuary will be open at designated times during the festival for guided tours.

Back again this year are the popular “Fun with Fillo” cooking demonstrations. Maria Kayafas will be presenting on three days at 2 pm. on Thursday through Saturday, July 29-31, in the balcony. This year, Maria will show visitors how to make bougatsa. This is a traditional and very popular Greek dessert made with the most creamy custard wrapped in golden brown crispy phyllo, sprinkled with melted butter and garnished with powdered sugar and cinnamon. It is “simply amazing,” she said.

“Among the Greek culture, there is a tradition of philotimo, the love of doing good for people,” said Maria Kayafas. “This comes across in our cooking, our desire to show hospitality to guests, neighbors and family as we eagerly prepare Greek dishes to share our love for others. It’s just another way to share our culture.”

New this year is a Kafenio, a Greek coffee house.

“We are excited to bring something new to the festival,” said 17-year-old Danyelle Dunlevy. “We were brainstorming ideas and thought the Frappé, Baklava Cheesecake and Ladopsomo fry bread were the items that people would love as much as we do.”

For 2021, carry-out and to-go will be in-person, with no pre-orders in the upstairs dining area. Food will be packaged to take home or to enjoy in one of the outdoor dining tents.

The festival will be located within the Centre Market Historic District, and there will be plenty of free parking available on Chapline Street and at the Center Wheeling Parking Garage.

Follow the festival on Facebook at “Grecian Festival” for the latest updates and news, or go online and browse www.grecianfest.com for more information or to download a menu.

Call 304-233-0757 for any additional information.

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