Thousands expected to attend Phoenix Greek Festival this weekend

Whether you're a fan of gyros and baklava or Greek dancing, you can find it at Phoenix Greek Fest.

If you’re a fan of gyros and baklava, the 57th annual Phoenix Greek Festival is the place for you this weekend!

Preparations are underway for the event at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral near 22nd Street and Maryland Avenue.

Around 20,000 people are expected to attend the weekend festival, which starts at 5 p.m. Friday.

Attendees can expect an evening full of spectacular performances, many with Greek folk dancers.

“All these costumes are either purchased directly from Greece or handmade here in Phoenix… all the embroidery done by all of our local grandmas,” said Niko Panagiotakopoulos, one of the dance instructors. “These go from everywhere from the Islands to northern mainland Greece.”

Kalamatiano is one of the well-known Greek dances that will be performed this weekend.

“This is one of the more common wedding dances and it’s something just about every Greek baby learns before they can walk,” said Panagiotakopoulos.

The event will also be a shopper’s paradise, with plenty of jewelry and clothing from the Islands of Greece along with beautiful artwork. The Greek Market offers foodies a chance to test out their cooking skills and offers an assortment of foods, such as cheeses, olives, spices, herbs and a variety of pastas.

If you like fried cheese and pita bread, be sure to try the Saganaki dish.

“This is a hard, salty cheese and we put it over a flame and we douse it with a little bit of Metaxa… you guys ready to say Opa? Opa!” said Ted Fourlis, a booth organizer, as he lit the cheese on fire. “Then we cool it off with a little bit of lemon juice and then from there we put it over a piece of pita and we top it with oregano, so you get a little sweet and salty all in one bite.”

If you have a sweet tooth, head to the Greek Bakery for homemade pastries.

“We’ve got a lot of fun for families here, so we’ve got a kid’s zone, with bouncies and all kinds of fun stuff, candy and stuff for the little kids,” said Sandy Meris, marketing coordinator. “It’s a great opportunity to come around… get a little Greek culture in your life.”

“The best Greek food you’ll have this side of Athens, for sure,” she said.

Admission is just $3 for the entire day, and it’s free for kids under 12 and seniors over 60. A

portion of the proceeds from the festival will go to UMOM New Day Centers. Free shuttles will be running from the Charles Schwab lot at 24th St and Lincoln.

For more information, go to: http://phoenixgreekfestival.org/.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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