By Shana Siren Kempton
Festival Season is on in Kansas City with a great welcome back and “yiasou!,” Greek for “hello!” as Annunciation Greek Orthodox Christian Church prepares for their 60th annual Greek Food Fest. Billed as one of the city’s largest ethnic events, Greek Fest draws together thousands in the community for food, faith, and culture, and to experience the Greek zest for life. After a two-year hiatus, Greek Fest is back. The festival runs September 9 through 11 at Annunciation Church in South Kansas City.
Visitors come for mouth-watering pastries and wine, spirited live music and dancing, and tours of the church where spectacular iconography – hand painted in the ancient technique of Byzantine art with goldleaf – graces the walls of the sanctuary.
Most come hungry because there is a feast prepared. From authentic gyros and pastitsio (Greek lasagna) to dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita (baked feta and spinach stuffed phyllo), and baklava sundaes, attendees will have their choice of Greek fare prepared by the hands of local parishioners who come together to showcase their signature dishes.
Returning this year is the nationally acclaimed Hellenic 5 Orchestra performing traditional Greek music throughout the weekend. Other entertainment includes Greek dancing and free bounce houses for the kids.
All time and efforts are donated by Annunciation parishioners who proudly run each booth, often multi-generationally. A portion of festival proceeds go towards the Annunciation Ladies Philoptochos Society who distributes it to local charities.
With five generations of family involved in Annunciation since the parish was founded in 1910, Tom Vleidides knows first-hand what this event means to the larger community as well as the parish which is made up of nearly 300 families. Under the guidance of his mother, his family ran the pastry booth for years, performed in dances, and managed other aspects of the festival. Vleidides says, “It’s an opportunity for the parish to work together and that’s how you build relationships.”
Previously, Greek Fest has boasted of 10,000-12,000 attendees. This year, Vleidides predicts 8,000 people will show up over the 3-day event. Come for an hour or stay all day.
Greek Fest runs September 9-11, under the tent, rain or shine, at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Christian Church located at 12001 Wornall Road. Free parking and free admission. For hours, menu, and a schedule of entertainment, please visit: http://greekfoodfest.org.