Members of a dance troupe from Mesolonghi

Members of a dance troupe from Mesolonghi

Greek Fest celebrates tenth year in Greater Victoria

The much-loved celebration of Greek food, entertainment and culture takes place at the Greek Community Centre, on now through to Sept. 5.

Bring out the baklava, and get ready for lamb for lunch. Greek Fest turns 10 this year and it’s bigger than ever.

Ask any fan of the festival and the authentic food is likely to be a highlight. But for organizers, Greek Fest is about more than just 200 roasted lambs.

“It’s a bit of everything for the family, for younger people or for older people,” said Michael Ikonomou, president of the Victoria and Vancouver Island Greek Community Society. “We have Greek dancing lessons, so a lot of people come on stage and learn to dance.”

The most important element is to showcase Greek culture and heritage.

New this year are paintings with classic iconography, completed by monks and nuns in Greek monasteries. The art will be unveiled to the public for the first time, having just arrived at the Greek orthodox church, where the festival is located.

Juan de Fuca, a captain in the Spanish navy, was the first Greek to come to Victoria. He’ll be honoured in a heritage display.

As well, 25 dance groups from across Canada and Europe will take the stage.

But the food is not to be overlooked. In order to maintain the authenticity of Greek Fest, even the barbecues used to cook the lamb are being shipped from Greece.

Last year, more than 30,000 people visited Greek Fest. Ikonomou hopes, rain or shine, people will again come out to enjoy the festival – which happens to be equipped with 1,100 covered seats should the West Coast rain roll through.

“We have a word in Greek that says philoxenia, which means we are friends to strangers,” he said.

“We make everybody feel at home. It’s a really nice atmosphere and people here have a lot of fun.”

The much-loved celebration of Greek food, entertainment and culture takes place at the Greek Community Centre, on now through to Sept. 5.

Proceeds from food sales on Wednesday and Thursday will benefit the Tillicum Elementary school hot lunch program and the Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.

Seniors also receive a 10 per cent food discount on Thursday. The festival runs daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 4648 Elk Lake Dr., beside Commonwealth Place.

nnorth@saanichnews.com