Greek Food Festival draws community together

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Children blowing bubbles and couple dancing to live band Mythos at Stockton Greek Festival. Photo by Vivienne Aguilar.
Kids blowing bubbles and couple dancing a traditional Greek dance while band plays music at the 2018 Greek Festival on Sept. 7.

St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church, located on 920 W. March Lane,  hosted its 59th annual festival last weekend on Sept. 7, 8, and 9. 

The domed building seen today was constructed in 1971. 

The original, built in 1929, needed to be relocated because the city needed that area to build the overpass.
The church was open to the public during the festival. 

Tour guides walked interested festival goers around the church. 

Large display cards on easels were placed around the room for non-parishioners to learn about the religious tools used in the Greek orthodox tradition.
Patrons who donated money to build the church line the back walls of the church in mosaic. 

St. Basil’s is said to be the most decorated in comparison to other Greek orthodox parishes in the region.
Unlike other Christian denominations where statues are used to show devotion, the greek orthodox tradition exclusively uses mosaics to worship icons. 

The icons seen in the church are unrealistic on purpose. 

Mosaics are an artistic representation of history to remind parishioners why they’re important.

The altar faces the east towards the rising sun in all Greek orthodox churches, tourists were told.

There are approximately 300 families that attend St. Basil’s. 

Tour guide Chuck Farris estimates that for an average weekend service, only 25 percent of families show, but on big holidays like Easter that number jumps to 90 percent.

Father Pete, a priest at St. Basil’s for six years, conducted a presentation in the church for visitors Friday afternoon. 

In the mess hall, people seemed more interested in the food. 

Outside there were more booths selling food, alcohol and an assortment of household items.

Cecilia Limoa has attended the festival for the past six years. 

She stood in the long line that wrapped around the mess hall for her favorite flaky desserts.
Lorraine and Geronimo Torres have been attending the festival, since 1972, a year after the the church was built. 

Geronimo is from Paraguay and Lorraine from Maryland. 

“When I came I already ate, then I found more food,”  Geronimo Torres said.
Most attendees admit their main reason for attending the festival is for the food.
Delta’s adjunct English professor Kathy Walkowiec has been a St. Basil’s parishioner for 30 years. 

Walkowiec volunteered serving pastries. 

 The pastries sold at the festival have to be prepared months in advance. 

Pastries like baklava and cookies are made starting in June or July and then frozen until the festival. Other things have to be made closer to the festival. 

“Custard doesn’t freeze well,” said Walkowiec.

Vendor Alexis Papachristos and her mother have worked the Greek festival for the past 20 years. She and her mother are parishioners and Alexis has been working the booth since she was young. 

The Papachristos’ get their merchandise from wholesalers, items like purses, children’s toys and especially jewelry. The jewelry is the most popular. 

“It [jewelry] makes women happy! A portion [of the earnings] go back to the church”, said Papachristos. 

She believes that people feel good buying from her because by doing so they are giving their money to a good cause and helping the church.

Next year will be the festival’s 60th birthday and parishioners are excited to celebrate with the community once more.