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Everyone gets to be a bit Greek May 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Northridge Greek Festival draws thousands for food and more > Saturday was the opening day of the 34th annual Valley Greek Festival.

“I’m Danish by descent and Greek by choice,” said one of the festival visitors. “I don’t understand the Greek songs, but they speak to my heart. It’s the spirit of Zorba the Greek.”

That was said by one of tens of thousands of people spending part of the holiday weekend at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at one of the biggest Greek festivals in the US.

“Once you hear that bouzouki music it really gives you the feeling you are in Greece,” said festival co-chairman Lou Skoby. “There is something about the music that makes you want to dance.”

The festival is free, but the church usually makes more than $100,000 over the festival’s three days, mostly from the sale of food and beverages. The money goes for the church and church school.

Many of the festivalgoers are attracted by the Greek food including souvlaki, moussaka, pastitsio, spanakopita, gyros, dolmathes and calamari. Beverage booths sell everything from strong Greek coffee, soda and Greek beer to wine, brandy, and Ouzo, a potent licorice-flavored liqueur that turns milk-white when poured over ice.

A favorite sweet dish is loukoumathes, Greek doughnuts, covered with honey and cinnamon and prepared fresh during the festival. One booth sells Greek ice cream covered with baklava. Besides baklava, pastries include koulourakia, a Greek cookie made with sweet butter and topped with sesame seeds, and melomakarona made with honey, a bit of orange flavor, a touch of Cognac and sprinkled with walnuts.

The festival also includes vendors selling Greek music, clothes, jewelry, pottery, olive oil, honey, landscape paintings and reproductions of paintings from ancient Greek pottery.

The Olympians group is playing music for dancing throughout the three days, with performances every couple of hours by youth dance groups from the church in traditional Greek costume. Each day Golden Greek Dancers give lessons at 6:30 p.m.

While thousands of the festivalgoers are of Greek heritage, everyone is welcome!

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