This past Labour Day weekend in St. Catharine’s, families from across the Niagara region gathered at the Greek Community of Niagara – Greek Orthodox Church for the 12th Annual Niagara Greek Festival. The line-up of events was put together to showcase the traditional cuisine, art and music of the Greek community in Niagara, with the festival drawing tens of thousands of attendees.
Last year was the first year that the Niagara Greek Festival was held on Labour Day weekend, which made for a big change for organizers. However, the change has paid off: 2016’s results were one of the best on record with approximately 15,000 people showing up to eat, drink, and celebrate Greek culture and community.
There were many different activities during the Festival, including a Kid’s Zone, a vendor’s marketplace, and a raffle draw for a grand prize of $5,000. For the cuisine available during the event, many delicious and home-made staples of the Greek diet were on display, including gyros, souvlaki, spanakopita, greek salad, and baklava.
Harry Korosis sits on the organizing committee for the Greek festival, and had some thoughts to share on this year’s events. Korosis said he expected crowds to be similar in size to last year’s festival. However, the festival was not going be simply a repeat of 2016’s festivities, as new entertainment is brought in year-to-year, such as the traditional Greek dance groups.
Korosis noted that ten different vendor businesses would be making up the festival’s marketplace, showcasing products that varied from olive oil to jewelry. However, Korosis stressed that all of the cuisine available at the Festival was prepared by the Church itself, with lots of hard work from the Greek community going into the cooking and baking.
Korosis also spoke on how although the Greek community is not one of Niagara’s largest ethnic communities; the Greek families in the region were among the founders of the Folk Arts Centre, which has been a part of Niagara for decades. When asked what part of the weekend he was most looking forward to, Mr. Korosis responded, “What’s always outstanding is to be able to share Greek culture, food and spirit with the Niagara community at large”.
Many local businesses and community organizations were involved in sponsoring the event. The Greek Festival also partners with Community Care and works to collect non-perishable donations for that organization.
-Quinton Ascah, Assistant News Editor