For 23 years the people of St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church have opened their doors, arms and hearts to share their culture and cuisine with the community with a festival. This year the Minneapolis Greek Festival – A Taste of Greece – runs Friday and Saturday, September 9 and 10, from noon to 10 pm, and Sunday, September 11, from noon to 6 pm at 3450 Irving Avenue.
“It’s all about the food – with a side of culture,” says Greg Maimares, General Chairman of the event. “Kali Orexi is the Greek phrase for Bon Appétit that translates to good appetite.”
Highlights of the Festival include
- Greek food and wine including a big hit last year – Chocolate Baklava – a twist on our traditional pastry.
- An inflatable play yard for kids that is free.
- Taste of Greece 5K Run/Walk for C.A.D.E. (Children with Autism Deserve Education) and Kids 1K Fun Run – Friday, September 9 starting at 6 pm at Lake Calhoun. A donation will be made to C.A.D.E. on behalf of all 5K registrants. Register on-line at www.active.com – $20 pre-race/$25 day of race. Non-perishable food donations will be accepted at the race.
- Wine Tasting – Friday and Saturday evening at 7 pm featuring several wines from Greece.
- Greek Dancers performing traditional and modern Greek dances all in full ethnic costumes representing the various island and mountain regions of Greece.
- Church tours to learn about the history and traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith.
- Shopping Greek style at the Plaka – Greek for marketplace – featuring imported Greek giftware, jewelry, sculpture, watercolors, leather goods, religious artifacts, and icons plus work of local and national artisans.
- Cooking Demonstrations – chefs, artisans and olive growers will teach how to prepare the delicacies of Greece.
Visitors can support Joyce Uptown Food Shelf by bringing three non-perishable food items to the festival and receive two tickets valued at $2.
Generosity of money and time are a vital part of St. Mary’s culture and tradition. They support programs around the world and close to home, as well as hosting many community events. Proceeds from A Taste of Greece 2011 will be given to Angel Tree, Community Emergency Services, FOCUS North America, Project Homeless Connect, Healing House, People Inc., Vail Place. Native American Community Clinic and other local charities.
“Not only is our festival full of food and fun it is an opportunity for tremendous outreach,” said Father Paul Paris, St. Mary’s priest. “We serve the Joyce Food shelf by giving coupons to attendees that bring canned goods, collecting over 1,400 pounds last year alone. Our 5K run is fun for all ages and proceeds help support the C.A.D.E. (Children with Autism Deserve Education). For our St. Mary’s parishioners this is an excellent opportunity to serve the parish, reach out to the community and share a little something about our Church and the Orthodox Faith.”
The origins of the Festival go back to the early 1950’s. St. Mary’s Parish Council began discussing the need for either expanding the church facilities on Tenth Avenue and Lake Street or building a new church on another site. A Greek Smorgasbord dinner was produced as a fundraising project for the new church and first held in 1954.
In 1957 the St. Mary’s congregation moved to its new church on 35th Street and Irving Avenue South on the shores of Lake Calhoun. By 1960, over 2,000 dinners were being served. At some point in time, the church took a break from having the fundraising dinners. In the 1980’s, a Sunday event was established called “The Taste of Greece.” The annual dinner tradition was suspended during construction to expand the church.
“In the year 2000, we sought to celebrate our Centennial in Minneapolis by sharing our culture and faith with the broader community,” said Sam Rouman, current Parish Council President. “The tradition established by our forefathers continues today through Taste of Greece. We welcome all to come and share a fun weekend of food and fellowship.”
The Minneapolis Greek Festival – A Taste of Greece 2011 – is sponsored by and located at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church, 3450 Irving Avenue, Minneapolis, overlooking the Eastern Shores of Lake Calhoun.
For more information go to www.MplsGreekFest.org or call 612.825.9595.
St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church, 3450 Irving Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408