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Oakland’s Greek Festival May 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Annual event promises food, dancing, art, photography and lectures

Get out your excess vowels, stock up on clashing consonants and prepare for a torrent of tzatziki, spanakopita, saganaki and kourabiedes during the 35th annual Greek Festival at the Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the Oakland hills.

The festival of food, music, dancing, art, photography and lectures on Greek history and culture begins today and runs through Sunday. There will be performances by Greek dancers, cooking demonstrations from various chefs including James Wimborough, executive chef of Evvia Estiatorio in Palo Alto, who will prepare some of his favorite Greek recipes on Saturday.

Members of the cathedral will welcome home singer Margarita, who left for Greece three years ago to participate in “Fame Story,” the Greek version of “American Idol.” Since then, she has been performing to huge audiences at several popular nightclubs in Greece and just finished a new CD. She will perform Friday and Saturday nights at the festival.

Oakland A’s radio personality Marty Lurie will broadcast his show live from the festival on Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. And UC Berkeley classics professor Kim Shelton will lecture on “Excavations in Greece: How archaeologists bring life to ancient Greek life.”

There will be cultural artifacts on display, and tours of the massive cathedral itself. Built in 1960, the spectacular church dome is copper on the outside and gold-anodized aluminum on the inside, giving it a heavenly golden glow behind portraits of the apostles and the icon of the head of Christ, a 40-foot wide painting, which may be the biggest icon of Christ in the country.

And of course there’s the food. All week long, volunteers have been preparing treats in the cathedral’s large kitchens, producing boxes of baklava and trays of loukoumades.

About 20,000 people are expected during the three-day event. The festival is at the Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 4700 Lincoln Ave., Oakland. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. today and Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6; free today before 4 p.m. and on Sunday after 5 p.m.

Free parking with shuttle-bus service is available at the neighboring Mormon Temple, the Cerebral Palsy Center, Head Royce School and the Woodminster Amphitheater. Premium parking in the cathedral’s parking pavilion is available for $10. For more information, call (510) 531-3400, or visit www.oaklandgreekfestival.com 

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