Temecula Greek Festival transports visitors to Mediterranean with dancing, music and food
Friday, October 25th, 2013
Issue 43, Volume 17.
The two-day event, which was sponsored by St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Temecula, featured a number of different family-friendly activities and a number of different vendors.
This is the 15th year that the church has sponsored a Greek festival for area residents, but itís only the second time the event has taken place outside City Hall, according to Father Andrew Lesko. Lesko is the priest of the church and has frequently been involved with the festivals.
Lesko said that this year he wanted the festival area to take on the look and feel of an actual Greek village by having a variety of traditionally Greek elements in cohesion with one another.
He said that a big component of creating that feeling was making sure the festival had a number of different Greek foods for visitors to try.
"We have lamb, we have souvlaki, we have moussaka – all the typical Greek foods per say," he said.
But these traditional savory Greek staples were only the tip of the iceberg; a number of different traditional Greek pastries were available inside a city hall conference center. Visitors could enjoy well-known pastries like Baklava (a phyllo dough pastry with nuts and honey), but could also try an assortment of lesser known Greek desserts. A phyllo dough dessert doused in syrup and covered in vanilla cream called Ek Mek Kataifi appeared to be a popular dish among many of the visitors.
This yearís festival was bigger than any of the festivals that came before it and therefore required that a large amount of food be prepared by those associated with the event according to Lesko, who added that there was enough prepared food to feed approximately 5,000 people.
"They have been baking and cooking," he said. "We have been using different Greek restaurants in the city to use their kitchens and their freezers and coolers to store (the food); itís taken thousands of man hours and woman hours to put this whole thing together."
Aside from the large and versatile quantity of food that visitors to the event could try, there were a number of musical, educational, and dance-related events that took place throughout the course of the festival.
A Greek music bandperformed different songs as visitors familiar with Greek dancing performed the hasapaiko, a dance in which they swayed to the music in an almost circular rhythm while holding on to each otherís shoulders. A childrenís dance class from St. Nicholas also performed the hasapiko dance shortly thereafter.
The remainder of the first day of the festival consisted of a number of entertaining dance performances by trained dancers and cooking lessons for those who wanted to learn how to cook some of the dishes available at the festival. A lesson into
cooking dolmathas (beef-stuffed grape leaves) was followed several hours later by a lesson on how to cook Kataifi. The evening closed in the cool summer air with a final dancing performance.
Perry Peters, one of the eventís organizers, said the Temecula Greek Festival has a special significance
because it is the last in a number of area Greek festivals that happen every year and that Greek festivals are very well known throughout this area.
"The Greek festival is very famous in Southern California," Peters said. "Every Greek Orthodox church in the area has a Greek festival."
Lesko added that those interested in attending a Greek festival on a certain week can check online to see what church will be sponsoring a festival for that week and where the festival will be taking place.
Many of the festival-goers appeared to be very impressed with the event.
Area resident Angela Lord was one of those individuals; Lord danced gaily to the music played by the Greek band during the festival. The happy festival-goer said she has been attending Greek festivals for over 40 years but this was her first time at the Temecula festival.
"Itís early so far, but Iím really enjoying it here," she said. "Thereís a really homey feeling here."
Lord said that she definitely plans to attend next yearís event, since she enjoyed attending this yearís.
Marie Deason, an event organizer and the teacher of St. Nicholasí youth dance class, said she was really glad to see the children dance and enjoy themselves.
"Theyíre really great," Deason said. "Theyíre the cutest things when you see them dancing."
Deason said she was glad that the music and dancing gave event attendees an opportunity to not only spend time with their friends and family, but that it also gave them an opportunity to meet other event attendees.
"I think the best part is the social aspect of it," she said, "because youíre making new friends and meeting old ones."
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