Σάββατο, 14 Ιουλίου 2012

Greek feast awaits hungry crowds: Music and dance to entertain festivalgoers at Portsmouth church - Fosters

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Julian Russell/Staff photographer Kathy Lalos of Portsmouth, a volunteer for St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, lays out trays of baklava on day one of the Portsmouth Greek Festival on Friday.



PORTSMOUTH — Smells of souvlaki (marinated chicken), moussaka (baked eggplant) and gyros filled the lot behind the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church on Friday afternoon, as vendors roasted and prepared traditional Greek foods for the Seacoast community.

"This festival gives residents a chance to visit Greece for a few days, without getting on a plane," Father Bob Archon, pastor of St. Nicholas, said.

Community members stood in line waiting for platefuls of food throughout the day, plopping down underneath a tented canopy filled with long tables to enjoy the prepared meals.

Wedged into one corner of the tent was a large stage, where Orfeas, a Greek band performed at 6 p.m. Children surrounded the musicians and danced together, twirling in a number of traditional Greek dances.

Marilyn Zotos, event coordinator, noted that music and dance festivities creates kefi — a word that inspires people to have a good time.

"There needs to be plenty of glendi (good time) in order to reach kefi," she said. "And that's what this kind of music inspires."

According to Zotos, St. Nicholas Church has held the festival for more than 30 years and now draws around 10,000 people over the course of its three-day stretch.

"The festival is a way to promote our heritage through religion, music and food," Zotos said.

During the hottest hours of the afternoon, when the heavy heat was nearly unbearable, people took their plates filled with marinated meats to a large room inside the church where air conditioning blasted and tables were set up. Along the walls vendors displayed items common in small Greek shops, including a large display of evil eyes dangling off silver chains.

Homemade baked goods including baklava (honey drizzled philo), koulourakia (cookies) and saragli (buttered philo covered in nuts) were spread along a table and available for people to purchase during the event.

"These are recipes that have been around for hundreds of years and are passed down from generation to generation," Father Bob said.

A makeshift Greek market loaded with imported goods ranging from canned grape leaves for homemade dolmas to frappe mixes lining the metal rack waiting for community members to buy. Near each of the unique items were small paper cutouts of recipes, offering customers a way to bring Greek cooking into their own kitchens.

"The Greek market is the fundraising arms for the Sunday school program at our church," Zotos said.

Money raised from entrance fees and dinner plates during the event covers operating costs at the St. Nicholas Church as well as philanthropic outreach programs that extend to the greater Seacoast area.

Zotos noted the church is heavily involved in community service projects around the area, donating time and resources to the Salvation Army soup kitchen and a women's shelter called Philoptochos (translating to friend of the poor).

"We are heavily involved in the greater community," Zotos said.

Community members enjoyed themselves throughout the afternoon while experiencing a taste of the laid-back Greek lifestyle.

Pat Vivenzio and Patricia Kyle, both from Seabrook Beach, have been coming to the event for the past few years after they saw a small preview clipping about the event.

"I come here for the food. All of it is wonderful," Vivenzio said.

Vivenzio also recalled a past trip to the small island of Santorini. She said that the Greek festival in Portsmouth fondly reminded her of that excursion.

"It is a really great event, people put a lot of work into this event and it shows," Kyle said.

Young and old alike enjoyed the event, mixing recipes and traditional dance with the youths of the area keeping a taste of Greece alive. 


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Julian Russell/Staff photographer Nick Genimatas of Greenland, a volunteer for St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Portsmouth, dishes out traditional Greek foods on day one of the Portsmouth Greek Festival on Friday. The festival runs through Sunday.




Greek feast awaits hungry crowds: Music and dance to entertain festivalgoers at Portsmouth church - Fosters