Get ready to feast on spanakopita, souvlaki and gyros at Greek Fest next week.
The free, family-friendly event, put on by the Victoria and Vancouver Island Greek Community Society, features a variety of Mediterranean food, live music and folk dance.
But the festival isn’t just a celebration of Greek culture, it’s a celebration of community, says one organizer.
“It’s not only Greek stuff,” Jim Koutougos, vice president of the society, said. “We definitely celebrate the Greek culture, and in general Greekness, but we’ve actually created a little bit more of a multicultural festival.”
Now in it’s 11th year, the festival is based on the Greek tradition of philoxenia, or “love of strangers.”
In Greek culture, neighbours often invite strangers or acquaintances to festivals and make them feel at home, Koutougos explained. “This is carrying on a tradition that you will find all over Greece.”
Each year the festival keeps growing, Koutougos said. An estimated 30,000 people attended the week-long festival last year.
This year’s event will include more seating, and more entertainment, he said, including performances from Spanish flamenco to Polynesian drumming.
“It’s more of a folk festival,” Koutougos said.
There will also be heritage exhibits, arts and crafts and face-painting. As well, Greek dancers from Mesologi, Greece, will be returning to perform.
However, the main draw to the event is “tons of delicious authentic Greek food.” Koutougos promises
“If you like that type of cuisine, there’s something that you’re not going to get at any Greek restaurant in town, and that’s the roast lamb,” he said.
Greek Fest runs Tuesday to Monday (Aug. 28 to Sept. 3), 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., at the front of Commonwealth Place, 4648 Elk Lake Dr. See www.greekfest.ca for more information.
Eating Greek goes to good causes
While the annual Greek festival is the main fundraiser for the Victoria and Vancouver Island Greek Community Society, donations and proceeds from vendor purchases will contribute to several different causes.
The society has partnered with the Saanich Fire Department to raise funds for the hot lunch program, which provides food for children in Victoria schools.
On Aug. 28, 10 per cent of proceeds will go to Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.
As well, there will be a 10 per cent discount on all food items for seniors on Aug. 30.