Grecian food festival opens

STEUBENVILLE – Michael and Alex Smith followed their grandfather around the dining hall at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Tuesday checking out the variety of food available at the 28th-annual Grecian Food Festival.

“I like the food here, especially the rice,” Michael solemnly announced.

“I like the the lamb,” added his brother, Alex.

The two boys will be regular customers this week at the festival that runs through Friday evening with their grandfather, Mike Marshall.

“The food is very good here and the boys like to stop down to try the different items including the pastries,” said Marshall.

Taylor Johnson of Steubenville plans on stopping at the food festival every day this week.

“I love the food, and the pastries are delicious. Sometimes it is hard to choose which one to buy,” Johnson laughed.

They were among the hundreds of customers who visited the festival after it officially opened at 11 a.m.

“I had to stop by the gyro booth. That is my favorite and I have been coming here for at least the last 10 years,” noted Sue Stewart of Steubenville.

Mark Mitchell is spending his third straight year at the gyro booth, where he stuffs the meat into the pita bread wrap and then wraps it in aluminum foil.

“It doesn’t get any better than this. This is definitely the place to visit this week,” remarked Mitchell between customers.

James “Jabbo” Callas will be busy working at the beer booth located in the outdoor taverna.

“I open the booth every morning and stay here until we close. It is a lot of work, but people in Steubenville really like this festival. People come here from out of town to see their families and friends. The food is great and people have a good time when they come here,” Callas said.

The Grecian Food Festival will be open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. each day through Friday.

The Grecian meals include Grecian-style roasted chicken with rice pilaf and green beans; boneless leg of lamb with rice pilaf and green beans; plaki, or baked fish; lamb stew; loukaniko, or sausage; gyro sandwiches; pastitsio; baked layers of filla dough filled with spinach, an egg mixture, feta, cottage and grated cheese; lemon- scented grape leaves stuffed with a seasoned mixture of rice, meat and herbs; and Greek salad.

The pastries menu will feature almond cookies, hot loukoumathes, galatobouriko, apidakia, kourambiedes, rice pudding, baklava cheesecake and chocolate baklava.

Festival Chairman John Scavdis said a new menu item this year “will be marinated pork on a skewer served on rice.

“We will also have for sale Greek cookbook by Debbie Mentenatoulas. We usually have a pretty good crowd. The weather is usually good for us and I hope we continue to have good weather again this year. The large tent will be set up in the street with a gyro stand and a taverna and the main entrees will be available in the church dining hall,” said Scavdis.

Phone-in and carry-out orders are available during the Grecian Food Festival by calling (740) 282-9835, and the fax number is (740) 282-2091.

Parking at the festival is free, and organizers said Greek icons, music and souvenirs will be on sale during the three-day event. This year’s festival will feature The Greek Company Orchestra providing a wide variety of Hellenic music styles.

The Rev. Nick Halkias, pastor of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, was busy Tuesday moving from table to table and greeting visitors with a smile and a hug.

“All I can say is glory to God because we give praise for the ability to show the hospitality of our parish to the community. We had a large carry-out business today which is good. If you can’t stop down then you can call in your order and take it back to work or home to enjoy,” declared Halkias.

Greg Matzorkas, one of the festival treasurers, has been placed in charge with, “covering as many bases as I can and make sure everything is working properly.”

“We have a great menu, and I try to make sure everything is moving smoothly during these four days,” he added.

“Yes, I know we are supposed to get a little rain this week. But it always rains during our festival. We have our indoor dining hall plus a huge tent on the street. So, you may have to dodge a few raindrops after you park but the food and entertainment are well worth a few rain drops,” Halkias stated.