Greek Festival brings culture to Savannah

Tradition Greek dancing at the Greek Festival
Traditional dancing at the Greek Festival

By Jessica Ferrera, Staff Writer

Every year the Greek Festival is hosted in the St. Paul’s Hellenic Center, bringing together Greeks and non-Greeks alike for a three-day festival celebrating Greek culture, cuisine and more. This year, on Oct. 9-11 the event brought countless numbers of visitors through the gate.

The festival featured music by “The Grecian Echoes”, dance performances from different troupes of children, teens and adults, and of course smiles from everyone attending.

While devouring the homemade Greek cuisine, visitors talked to one another and enjoyed the entertainment on stage.

Sperry Kaler, four-year attendee, said, “It’s a mix between the food and music,” that keeps him coming back every year. “My favorite food would have to be the pastitsio.”

Pastitsio wasn’t the only delicious meal that one could eat. Homemade foods such spanakopita and a fan favorite, Greek meatballs, and many other Greek food options were on the menu. Greek pastries were also a favorite among guests. So whether guests had a sweet tooth or wanted a full meal, there were plenty of options to choose from.

Jae Crawford, a youth advisor and convert to the Orthodoxy, was running the baklava ice cream stand in the courtyard. While serving the delectable dessert, she explained why she loves the Greek festival and culture.

“The people love their heritage, and I really love that,” Crawford said.

The courtyard not only featured the baklava ice cream stand, but clothing, scarves, homemade wooden carvings, and more. The courtyard was reminiscent of a marketplace and really provided visitors with a comfortable, social feeling.

Inside, the sight-seeing and fun didn’t end. Tables of food, clothing, and social gatherings continued throughout. Anyone could buy Greek desserts, jewelry, and even a simple wristband with the Greek flag.

Betsy Varlagas has been a part of the Greek Festival for 24 years and had a table of jewelry and T-shirts set up.

“I’ve been doing this ever since my son was born. When he was born, they told me about the Greek festival, and I worked at this same table with his crib right beside me,” explained Varlagas while laughing. “I love people to learn about our culture.”

Members like Varlagas who have been enjoying the festivities for years, as well as first time visitors both equally enjoyed the enthusiastic gathering.

As years of memories and traditions have proved, the Greek Festival and everyone who helped to put it together brought the Greek atmosphere into Savannah, just as they always do.

The words of Betsy Varlagas described the Greek culture and festival best: “Big heart. Great hospitality.”