A member of the Horeftikos Omilos Mesologgiou dance troupe leaps in to the air during a performance at the 2013 Greek Fest.

Let the Greek times roll: Greek Fest begins today

Annual Greek festival expected to attract 30,000 people to Saanich Commonwealth Place over two weekends

Dancers from the old country will be kicking up a frenzy while the aroma of freshly roasted lamb lures 30,000 people to the 13th annual Greek Fest beginning today outside Saanich Commonwealth Place.

While stalwart offerings like Greek cuisine and traditional dance performances remain, organizers are expanding a popular agora, or Greek market, and are opening the stage to dancers from other cultures to increase the visual spectacle.

“We have performers coming all the way from Athens, and they’re quite a spectacular group of people,” said Michael Ikonomou. “They have six different programs they’ll perform, one at lunchtime and one in the evening each day.”

Ikonomou said visiting Greek performers are struck each year by the hospitality and openness of Greater Victoria’s Greek community, many of whom migrated to the area in the 1950s and ’60s.

“There’s been a lot of development and influence of tourism in Greece over those years, but the people here haven’t been exposed to that development. We’re more pure about the Greek culture,” he said.

Expect a popular heritage exhibit that began several years ago to continue to expand as well.

“We have artifacts from all the people who have been here from the early days,” Ikonomou said. “We also hired a student who collected stories from the many people who immigrated here years ago, and it’s a work in progress. Our aim is to populate it and put it on the web with video.”

Cash raised from food and beverage sales feeds back into next year’s Greek Fest as well as several charitable causes including Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock and the Hot Lunch Program.

“We also support a number of needy families in Victoria. This year, we had a child that needed an insulin pump,” Ikonomou said.

“There are families who need help, and in the last couple of years, we had a lot of new immigrants from Greece after the financial crisis. There’s a big chunk of money that goes                         to those causes.”

The Greek community hall also runs year-round language training and other cultural programs, thanks to funding from Greek Fest.

As always, Greek Fest will celebrate the ideals of family, friendship and philoxenia, or generosity towards strangers, even as record attendance numbers swell the capacity to its limit.

“The number of people is almost overwhelming,” Ikonomou said. “But we want to maintain our friendliness to strangers. That’s always our top priority.”

Greek Fest runs Aug. 22 to 24 and Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Saanich Commonwealth Place. See greekfest.ca for more information.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Cordova Bay group against plaza redevelopment

Cordova Bay shopping centre has three, four-storey buildings

Victoria housing provider launches crisis prevention program to combat homelessness

Pacifica Housing aims to address challenges before tenants risk evictions

Victoria wins crucial WHL contest over Giants in Langley

Royals take over second in B.C. Division ahead of Vancouver

Needles far more prolific than public realizes, says local biohazard company

Leaving needles around ‘considered bad form among intravenous drug users’

Man hospitalized after early morning Sooke Road crash

Police say injuries are non life-threatening

WATCH: Giant waves smash Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point

Folks made their way to Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point Lighthouse on Thursday, Jan.… Continue reading

UPDATE: BC Transit’s handyDart service strike delayed

LRB application by contractor means new strike notice must be issued by union

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

Most Read