By Samantha Santana
Attendees will get a taste of Mediterranean cuisine like moussaka, consisting of layers of eggplant, potatoes, meat and cream sauce, during the 22nd annual Greek Festival.
The festival is a celebration of Greek culture, faith and heritage, sharing food, music and dancing with the Wilmington community while giving back to the Good Shepherd Center.
Local band Lazaros will provide traditional Greek music during the three-day event. Band member Lee Nourtsis said the band has provided musical entertainment for about six to eight years.
“It’s a great festival. It’s a relaxed attitude,” Nourtsis said. “Great crowd response from visitors and community members.”
This year, the band will play musical instruments ranging from the bass guitar to the bouzouki, a string instrument that resembles a mandolin.
Basile Katsikis, public relations director, said the festival is a fun annual event that also helps promote Greek culture and the Greek Orthodox faith in the community.
“Our Greek festival is nothing more but sharing a little about our culture and sharing our Greek Orthodox faith,” Katsikis said. “This is our 22nd year … we’ve been very successful. We’ve been around for a long time. It’s sweet to see the support of our community. It’s something that’s really fun.”
The festival will have many traditional Greek dishes for attendees to savor. The main course will be served with Greek beans, rice pilaf, a roll and a choice between Greek-style chicken, beef shish kebob or a Greek roast of lamb leg. For dessert, attendees can purchase ice cream, snow cones or a Greek frappe. Festival-goers will also have the chance to taste loukoumades, Greek honey puffs.
“Typically people go there to eat; our job is get everyone fat,” Katsikis said. “We have a wonderful selection of food. We have all these beautiful dishes and [the attendees] can have everything. We have all these things, but they also come for the pastries. We have over 80,000 pieces of pastries, and we will probably sell out by Sunday morning. We can’t meet the demand.”
The festival includes a drive-thru this year to better accommodate individuals with disabilities.
Nationally ranked dancers, led by University of North Carolina Wilmington graduate Zaharoula Katsikis, will provide entertainment during the event.
Katsikis has estimated about 20,000 people will attend this year’s event.
“We really do our best to make it really fun, see them jumping around and their spirits running,” Katsikis. “Safety is a concern so we make sure to have security [onsite]. It’s a safe and fun place to be.”
Katsikis said ethnic festivals help enrich an individual and that people should attend as a way to get to know more about Greek culture.
“By the end of the night, they’re all Greek. And they’ll be screaming, ‘opa!’” he said.