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Opa Festival continues with ‘American Idol’ headliner June 18, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.

He wowed the crowds with his smoldering glances and smooth rocker moves on “American Idol” in 2005.

Now Constantine Maroulis will take the stage twice during Opa Fest 2007, “A Night in Athens,” on the grounds of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Troy.

The event runs Friday through Sunday, June 22-24. Maroulis will perform for free at 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

This year, about 10,000 people in three days are expected to attend the festival at the church at 760 W. Wattles Road in Troy. Last year, 6,000 attended, said Pam Nikitas, the festival’s spokeswoman. She noted about 45,000 Greeks live in Southeast Michigan.

Patti Chalker remembers the early days of the Opa Fest 14 years ago. She estimated 1,000 may have attended over the three days of the festival on church grounds. “Parishioners would cook in food tents out back,” said Chalker, St. Nicholas’ church secretary. Now, with an new enclosed cultural building, the cooking has moved indoors.

As in the beginning, parishioners make the food served at the festival, including the luscious galaktoboureko, a traditional Greek dessert made with a custard in a crispy phyllo pastry shell and drizzled with honey. Other highlights include 200 dancers performing in authentic Greek costumes and the Greek band Levendes. Visitors are encouraged to dance, and people will be on hand to give instructions in Greek dancing.

For the first time, a Greek folk art exhibit will be on display. “John Korachis, a Detroit attorney, has lent us this collection, handmade pottery, icons and artifacts from Greece, it should be outstanding,” Nikitas said.

A variety of Greek wines will be available in the wine-tasting area. A Greek marketplace will be open to shoppers. Games and rides will be available for children.

Festival attendees are welcome to tour the church building, which contains murals and iconography saved from the original Detroit church built in the 1930s. “The church tours are nice because they introduce people to Eastern Orthodox faith,” Nikitas said. “People can learn something as well as enjoy a great party.”

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