BY VICTORIA KARAGIORGIS
While this year marks the 27th year of the annual Winston-Salem Greek Festival, the roots of Winston-Salem’s Greek community extend much deeper. Boasting the second-largest Greek community in North Carolina, The Triad saw the first set of Greek immigrants arrive in the early 1900s.
These immigrants ventured to the Piedmont with empty pockets, yet hearts full of ambition, passion and a hope for building a better life for themselves and future generations. It is this passion for, and dedication to, upholding the values of community, tradition, and hospitality (“philoxenia”) that the Greek community in Winston-Salem was founded upon. The community has always had a strong desire to share their unique heritage. Thus, the Greek Festival was born.
Given that tradition is a big part of Greek culture, everything at the Greek Festival—from the food to the dancing—is firmly established in the roots of community and hospitality. While it is an honor for the Greek community of Winston-Salem to share their traditions (and delicious food) with others, the true blessing is how the event brings the church together and to witness how much the Winston-Salem community embraces being Greek for a weekend.
In true Greek fashion, the Festival does not lack in entertainment. Live music and dancing take place throughout the day. For the third year in a row, the “Zorba Squad” will be on-site to provide extra entertainment and Greek dance lessons for the audience. Aside from the music and dancing, the Festival includes church tours, a vendor’s market, and cooking demonstrations.
In even truer Greek fashion, food is one of the main attractions. On the savory side, the Festival features souvlaki, gyros, Greek-style baked chicken, mousaka, spanakopita, and more.
The women of the congregation spend months preparing homemade pastries for the Festival—something that is particularly confined to the Winston-Salem Greek Festival. Traditional pastries include rizogalo (a Greek rice pudding), kokakia (Greek cream puffs with a chocolate glaze), diples (Greek honey rolls), and of course, baklava.
A limited drive-thru menu will also be available, with a feature of online ordering on the festival website, wsgreekfestival.com. People can also order by calling (336) 765-FOOD, and get pick-it-up efficiently in a separate drive-thru line, without having to get out of their car!
The festival—held at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church at 435 Keating Drive (off of Country Club Road)—runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday (May 17th-18th) and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday (May 19th). All dining, entertainment, and vending areas are covered by tents, allowing for a Greek-good time, rain or shine.
For more information on the Winston-Salem Greek Festival, call (336) 765-7145 or visit wsgreekfestival.com.