Savannahians get their Greek (back) on at 66th annual Greek Festival


Rebekah McLeod, Staff Writer

Dancers perform traditional Greek dance for the crowd at Greek Fest. Rebekah McLeod, Oct. 23rd, 2017

“We had a hurricane come through and try to shut us down this year,” announced Tommy Danos to a busy Saturday lunch crowd noshing on spanakopita and baklava, “but we decided that Savannah just wouldn’t be Savannah without the Greek Festival!”

The crowd erupted in cheers, and Danos, a realtor in Savannah and chairman of one of this year’s festival committees at St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church, introduced the dance troupe “Goya.”

The 66th Annual Greek Festival was originally scheduled for Oct. 6-8 but due to Hurricane Matthew, the event was rescheduled for Oct. 21-22.

“The amazing thing is that down here at the church we never lost power, we had no problems,” Danos said.

The rescheduled festival days brought a cool, cloudless sky and plenty of local Savannahians happy to wait their turn in line for delicious, a la carte Greek specialties.

“We’re here for the food,” said local Jessica Oxnard, who has lived in Savannah for five years, but was a first time visitor to the festival. She and husband Brendan frequent The Olympia Cafe, a Greek restaurant on River Street. Olympia Cafe owner Nick Pappas is a member of St. Paul’s and serves food with his wife during the Greek Fest.

“You know you’re Greek when you eat as much every night as a normal family eats at Thanksgiving,” the pamphlet read, which was given to each patron entering the church courtyard on West Anderson Street.

Stepping inside the old building, the smells began as grandma’s closet, but quickly morphed into mouth-watering scents of roasted lamb, pitas and Greek meatballs. Clearly, the biggest draw to the annual festival is the traditional Greek foods and desserts, which are handmade by members of the church parish.

In addition to the culinary pleasures, weekend activities also include tours of the recently renovated church, shopping in The Agora, a retail market area offering jewelry, music, and clothing and Greek dance performances.

The proceeds of the Savannah Greek Festival go to benefit the ministries of St. Paul’s and also support several non-profit organizations in the city of Savannah.