Tradition continues: Weirton Greek Festival opens for 32nd year

OPA! — Members of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Weirton joined with volunteers and guests for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the church hall Thursday morning, officially opening the 32nd-annual Weirton Greek Festival. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — For 32 years, All Saints Greek Orthodox Church has opened its doors to the community to showcase its spirit of volunteerism and friendship.

That tradition continues this week with the Weirton Greek Festival, which opened Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the church’s fellowship hall.

According to festival Chairman Nick Tranto, planning for the festival begins in January.

All food is handmade from scratch and flash frozen, with ingredients sourced from local vendors, Tranto noted.

“We have 36 baking and preparation days leading up to the festival,” Tranto said.

Last year’s festival saw approximately 8,500 patrons served.

Proceeds from the Weirton Greek Festival help to fund approximately 40 percent of the church’s yearly operating budget, according to Tranto, but it also benefits many others in the community.

“We continually support local organizations with profits from the festival,” he said. “We try to give back to the community. That’s a mission of our church.”

Among those who have received support over the years are the Community Bread Basket, Table of Hope, Salvation Army, the Weirton Police Department’s K-9 Division, Family Connections and the Weirton Christian Center.

While the festival has been around for 32 years, All Saints has been a part of the Weirton community for 102 years. Many of the church’s members are first-generation Americans, Tranto noted, with parents who were born in Greece.

In that respect, the festival, which Tranto said is the largest ethnic event in Weirton, is a way to help showcase their traditions and culture, including food, music, dancing and the idea of “philoxenia,” which Tranto explained means “a friend to all.”

“You may enter a stranger, but you leave a friend,” Tranto said.

The Weirton Greek Festival continues 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Saturday.

In addition to a variety of food, entertainment is provided each day, including nightly performances by the Aegean Dancers of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek Company Orchestra.

Twice As Nice will take the stage at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Guided tours of the church also will be available each day.

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