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St. Clair Shores, Grosse Pointe Woods

August 14, 2014

GreekFest offers three days of fun for the family

By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer

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GreekFest offers three days of fun for the family
Rice is one of the ingredients used in the popular stuffed grape leaves dish. Volunteers at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church were working Aug. 7 in preparation for the upcoming Greekfest.

ST. CLAIR SHORES/GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Assumption’s GreekFest is where everyone is Greek for the weekend and can take in some of the food, culture and fun of one of the area’s most anticipated and beloved traditions.

GreekFest will be run from Aug. 15-17 at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 21800 Marter in St. Clair Shores and Grosse Pointe Woods.

“Return of the tried and true traditions, as well as exciting new offerings, will make this festival even more outstanding than last year’s,” GreekFest Co-Chair Tom Thomas said in a press release. “Thousands attended GreekFest last year. Everyone enjoyed the entertainment, the food and drinks, and the kids had a ball with all the activities.

“Everyone from the church has their heart and soul invested in it and is very committed to it,” Thomas said while at the church doing some planning last week.

“We absolutely love doing this,” he said. “There’s kind of a buzz around the church this time of year.”

He said they compete each year with the Dream Cruise but continue to be a big draw.

“We do well every year,” he said.

“There’s something for everyone of all ages,” Thomas said.

The festival will run from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday with the grand raffle drawing at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Admission costs $2 per person, with children 12 and younger admitted for free. Free parking and a shuttle service is available, but they will also be offering valet parking for $5 from 5-9 p.m. Friday, 4-9 p.m. Saturday and 3-8 p.m. Sunday, thanks to Professional Valet Service LLC. The proceeds will go to Assumption Church.

It’s an event that attracted 12,000 people last year and one that people look forward to, marking their calendars to make sure they don’t miss it.

That’s what Co-chair George Dallas loves about the festival — hearing from people who had such a wonderful time that they are eager to head back each year.

“It’s just such a joy to see the non-Greeks have so much fun here,” Dallas said. “They enjoy our food. They enjoy our music, the artifacts, the church.”

On Family Day, Aug. 15, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., everyone in the family will be admitted for free. The Detroit Tigers mascot PAWS will be on hand, and there will be dancing and singing contests and more.

Different ethnic groups will perform and show off their cultures, including the Ardan Academy of Irish Dance and the Chorale Italiano.

The grand opening ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m., with performances and surprise guests to kick off the weekend of festivities.

Saturday will include big band and Motown sounds with the popular Gentlemen of Swing performing at 1 p.m., followed by The Ambassadors at 3 p.m.

The Alpha and Omega dancers and Junior Helleni Society for the performing Arts also will perform on Saturday.

On Sunday, one of the highlights of the day is the grand raffle with some big prizes to be won. The first place prize was donated by Jim Riehl Friendly Auto Group and is a prepaid lease for 24 months for a 2015 Chrysler 200 Limited with up to 10,000 miles a year. The first-place prize includes a $1,000 cash award donated by Biggby Coffee in Grosse Pointe Woods. Second place is two domestic airline tickets to anywhere in the continental United States donated by Cosmopolitan Travel in St. Clair Shores. Third place is $500 and fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-place prizes are $200 each.

The kids’ tent will offer something for the young festival attendees, including face painting, a balloon man, cotton candy, Wally’s Firetruck, games and more.

“Kids will have a ball with rides, activities and games planned for them all four days,” Thomas said in the news release.

There will be rides, a petting zoo, ponies and more.

They will have a cultural exhibit with the new Hellenic Museum of Michigan, and Dr. Lena Hatzichronoglou from Macomb Community College will present Greek mythology, culture and history.

There will be a gift shop and bookstore with art, children’s gifts, candles and more.

While the entertainment and activities will once again be top-notch, one of the biggest draws of the festival is the authentic Greek food, which draws people back again and again each year.

“The food is just out of this world,” Dallas said.

From spinach pie, gyros and roast lamb to shish kebob, coney islands, pastitsos and more, there are so many choices. They will also offer Greek wine, and Greek and domestic beer, as well as Greek coffee and desserts.

They will once again be hosting the popular “GreekFest Drive-Thru Carry Out Express Station” from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

Another popular part of the festival is the Marketplace with vendors selling items from around the world, including items from Greece.

Proceeds from the festival benefit the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church and Cultural Center outreach programs and the Assumption Nursery and Toddler Center.

For more information including daily program times, visit assumptionfestival.com or call (586) 779-6111, ext. 3. Call (586) 596-6326 to order take-out food.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer April Lehmbeck at alehmbeck@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1043.