The windmill is up, the dancers are rehearsing, and the baklava is in the oven---Labor Day Weekend in Belmont can only mean one thing--the food, the music and the cross-cultural festivities of the fabulous Greek Festival.
The 43rd annual festival, which runs Aug. 31-Sept. 2, will host 20,000 visitors who come to the colorful grounds of the Greek Orthodox Church relish in all things Greek--from Mediterranean music (the chair dancers!), colorful costumes, Greek arts and crafts, and of course---the food."We’re rolling out the welcome mat for everyone who wants to be Greek for a day," said Festival Chairman Michael Malekos.
"Our volunteers have been working for months preparing these delicious Greek dishes," Malekos said.
"We use recipes that have been handed down for generations."
Here's a sampling of items on this weekend's menu: barbecued lamb chops (with special Greek seasonings), souvlakia (Greek shish-kebab), spanakopita (spinach and cheese stuffed inside layers of filo pastry) and dolmades (grape leaves wrapped around ground beef and rice).
There will also be traditional homemade Greek pastries such as loukoumades (doughnut holes covered with honey), baklava (layers of nuts and filo pastry soaked in honey), kourambiedes (crescent-shaped butter cookies covered with powdered sugar) and galactobouriko (filo pastry filled with custard and covered with syrup).
The band is always playing, so when they’re not eating, festival guests can get up and dance or watch the award-winning folk dance groups perform in their colorful, hand-made costumes.
An outdoor amphitheater, reminiscent of the theaters of ancient Greece, is the stage where children and adults alike will enjoy a not-so-tragic Greek mythology play, "The Wrath of Hades," and lively Greek folk songs performed by the festival chorus and orchestra.
Children’s entertainer Andy Z will take to the amphitheater stage to present his award-winning show featuring imaginative songs, stories, dances and colorful characters.
The Fun Zone children’s area will offer games, rides, bouncy castles, crafts and more.
Tours of the award-winning Byzantine-style church, including the recently-installed mosaic iconography, will be given throughout the weekend, and the Holy Cross Choir will sing during the first church tour on Sunday.
Other festival highlights will include the agora (flea market), art, clothing, jewelry and gift boutiques, cooking demonstrations, religious icons and a bookstore.
The Church of the Holy Cross supports many charitable groups throughout San Mateo County, and each year, the church donates a portion of the festival proceeds to several local charities. Previous recipients of festival donations have included Samaritan House, Interfaith Network for Community Help (INCH), Children’s Advocacy Council, local schools and churches and the Belmont mayor’s choice of charity.
For more information, including a schedule of the weekend's events, go to http://www.goholycross.org/festival/ or call 650-591-4447.
The Belmont Greek Festival:
- Labor Day Weekend, Saturday, August 31, through Monday, September 2, at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross, 900 Alameda de las Pulgas (corner of Ralston Avenue), in Belmont.
- Hours: Saturday, August 31, and Sunday, September 1, from Noon to 10 PM, and Monday, September 2, from Noon to 8 PM. The Fun Zone for children and the agora (flea market) close at 6 PM all three days.
- Admission is $5 for adults and $2.50 for seniors and youth ages 13-17. Children 12 and under are admitted free, accompanied by an adult.