Greek Fest returns—no ‘oohpas’ please

For those Rockfordians who used My Big Fat Greek Wedding as the final source for Greek culture and cuisine (they eat lamb, right?) Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church will open some eyes to other aspects of the Hellenic culture this weekend, July 25, 26 and 27. After a ten year hiatus, one of the most colorful cultures of Rockford will reopen their festival to the public with great food, music, art and imports.

As for entertainment, the Greek Fest committee has lined up an array of entertainers to keep the weekend moving. The headlining act is Greek comedian Skip Griparis who will perform Saturday and Sunday evening. Griparis is part of the Zanies Comedy Nightclub circuit throughout Chicago, and has had some small move rolls as well as once being a backup singer for Olvia Newton-John. Throughout the weekend a DJ playing The Sounds of Greece will emcee and introduce Rockford to cultural music. Also, Hellas 2000, a Greek band from Chicago, will provide live music for dancing all weekend in the late afternoons and evenings. Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church Youth Group Dancers will perform traditional dances in ethnic costumes, and the Apollo Dance Troop from Aurora will perform Saturday and Sunday.

Besides the lamb in the gyros (provided by Uncle Nick’s), there will be little of the stereotypical meat at the festival. The wonderful women of the church will provide souvlaki (marinated pork shish-kebob), chicken souvaki dinner (served with orzo pilaf and a Greek salad and roll), Loukanikos (a Greek sandwich), Greek salads and spanakopita (spinache pie triangles in Fillo pastries) and tiropita. The Bakery and Cafés tent will provide the extremely famous deserts that have put Greece back on the map since Ancient times. Baklava, kataifi, kourambiethes and Loukomades can all be complemented very well by the rich and thick Greek coffee, that if I remember, leaves an almost musty chocolate grit on your tongue. They also provide iced coffee, American coffee, and Pepsi products. Beer and wine are provided by Lorden Distributing.

After you’ve had your fill, which should take a while, drop by the Agora (marketplace) to do a little shopping. Besides books, jewelry, music, clothing and vases, artwork will also be on display by two local parishioners of the church, Jane Zbeeb and George Kapotas (paintings and sculptural works.)

The Greek Festival will take place from 5 p.m.-11 p.m., Friday, July 25; 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday, July 26; and 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday, July 27. On Sunday of course, Orthodox mass will be offered at the church at 9 a.m. before the festival. Oh, I forgot to mention that there is no admission to the festival; it’s FREE. The event will take place on the grounds of the church, and will include the use of Market Street and North Fifth Street. The main entrance is located at East State and Market sts. Dance the night away and enjoy everything this vibrant culture in Rockford has to offer.

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