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Opa! Greek Heritage is alive and well in Orange County, NY

Greek Festival 2018, in Orange County, NY  is an annual festival that occurs at this time every year.  The purpose of the festival is to both raise awareness and raise money for their yearly costs for certain ongoing programs for youth and families.  These Greek festivals are held around the same time all over the country.

As summer approaches, it is naturally the time for festivals, carnivals, and other kinds of fests.  These are community building, and offer you chances to see and explore other communities and cultures near you.  These kinds of festivals have been around for centuries, think of circuses, and traveling bards moving from town to town.  It was a way for information to get from one place to another, before telephones and the Internet, it was also how someone might experience animals they had never seen.

There are several huge tents, and you get the impression it’s something they have been doing for some time. Getting into the festival was streamlined, they had stickers and several people taking the entry fee, and providing each person with a menu of foods available, and a sponsorship book.

Figure 1 The Dj talks about the history of Greeks in Orange County NY

They had the main tent, that had a DJ playing Greek music, and informing everyone about what was available there.  The second tent had tables with classic Greek desserts, from Baklava, the filo dough, nuts and honey dessert, they had Lokma, lightly fried dough smothered in a light syrup with various flavors and other sweet treats.

They had a huge table with all kinds of religious themed items for sale.  From shirts and rosary beads, to keychains, and other items available. In the rear of that tent were several tables and a community garage sale.  All proceeds also supported the church’s activities.

The tent with the food had many kinds of Greek foods, from souvlaki (chunks of meat on a skewer with condiments), and spanakopita (spinach pie), to domla (grape leaves blanched and filled with various meats, and veggies) they had other foods, like hotdogs, and fries as well.

The Greek dance portion of the program, started shortly after the food was served, and it was a dinner/dance kind of event, where the dancers provided entertainment while the audience ate.

Then entered the dancers!  They were kids of various ages, boys and girls, wearing costumes from the different parts of Greece.  The costumes were colorful, lively, and with tassels and other free moving bits and bobs.  The kids danced about ten traditional Greek dances. One elderly woman who was attending the event said “I love attending these traditional events, they are fun and you can also learn about someone else’s culture.”

As the sun was setting, and the dancing ended, many festival goers began to take their leave for the night.  Festivals have been around for millennia, and before people moved around a lot, before the advent of trains, planes, and cities both great and small, these festivals were how people experienced the world around them.  And they are just as vital today, as they were back then.  We might be so connected to the world because of the Internet, but we are always going to want to experience things for ourselves and not just see them thru some “window to the world.”


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