WHEELING - Gyro sandwiches, baklava and marinated pork shish kabobs. Sound familiar?
It's that time of year again. The annual Grecian Fest is slated Wednesday through Saturday at St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church, 2215 Chapline St. The festival is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m daily and until 4 p.m. Sunday.
Festival committee member George Cosmides said church parishioners have been busy for weeks preparing for the 13th-annual event that celebrates the Greek culture's food and arts. In addition to the numerous homemade dishes and pastries available inside and outside the church, the festival features the Agape Dancers performing in traditional dress.
"My favorite meal is the pork shish kabob, I think because I work the station. It's my favorite - it's a can't-miss meal," Cosmides said. "The roasted chicken dinner is popular with people who don't want to be adventurous."
There are also vendors outside selling jewelry and artwork. Inside, people can browse the bookstore or take self-guided sanctuary tours.
While a portion of the street is blocked off in front of the church, parking still is available on the street. Parking at the Chapline Street parking garage across from Ohio Valley Medical Center also will be validated by the festival. After 4 p.m., free parking is available at OVMC's surface lot across from the church.
Cosmides noted he enjoys the spirit of the festival and how it brings the community together.
"Everyone seems to get a kick out of it. ... I also like that it's indoors and outdoors so people can be as comfortable as they want to be," he said.
For the first time, Cosmides added, the festival will accept credit cards for payment.
"The pastry shop is bigger and better than ever," he said.
Festival Chairman Gus Kayafas said organizers are proud to bring Greek culture to the residents of the Ohio Valley each year.
"Our theme is if you can't go to Greece, Greece comes to you ... ," he said. "We work very hard to create a hospitable environment with good food and a good time."
He stressed the festival's vendor list is expanded this year, with new offerings such as Greek-themed paintings, imported Greek goods such as clothing, souvenirs, music and toys for children.
For festival highlights or directions to the church, visit www.grecianfest.com.