Every year, Columbia's Greek community provides the city with a fanfare of food, dancing and Greek traditions, and this year was no exception. This past weekend from September 17 to 20, the 29th Annual Columbia's Greek Festival was a great success, offering cultural events, good eats and shopping.
“[There’s] something for every member of the family,” said Robert Stewart, the promotions committee chairman of the festival.
Their slogan, “Be Greek for a Week,” brought in hopeful “Greeks” from around the South Carolina community.
Courtesy of SGTV
The event was centered at Columbia’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and spread out from there. Cultural events included tours of the church, informational videos, discussions, live music, Spartan warriors and Greek folk dancing.Dance performances occurred almost every day of the festival in the ‘plaka,’ the Greek term for town square. It was hard to tell whether the dancers or the spectators were enjoying themselves more, and their traditional costumes were just as interesting and flamboyant as the many dances.
There was no problem finding the outdoor kitchen with its delicious aromas and sea of people pushing you toward it. The menu changed between lunch and dinner, with a new options to choose from every day. Traditional Greek-style chicken, shrimp or lamb, keftedes (Greek-style meatballs) and pastichio (macaroni with meat sauce) were among the most popular menu items. The Greek bread and salad were a staple with every meal.
Still, no stall was more popular than the pastry shop, tempting passersby with every imaginable Greek treat. After a small sample, many people went back to buy the pastries in bulk to enjoy in throughout the week, or for some, on the car ride home.
For anyone wanting to get their Christmas shopping list checked off early, there were indoor and outdoor shops offering everything from jewelry and clothes to groceries to artwork. As Stewart proudly advertises, “It is a true family event.”
The Greek Festival benefits the Columbia community through donating a portion of the profits to local charities. Last year, Stewart said the amount donated was $50,000 in addition to making a year’s payment of the church.
In addition, the festival works closely with the university community to offer service opportunities for college students. After an enjoyable day of service, a student can receive a certificate of completion for their volunteer hours completed and pay for a gyro at the outdoor kitchen.
If you weren't able to go to the festival, no worries — it'll be back again next year. It's a great way to spend the day or a couple of hours, and a great local event to cross off your USC Bucket List.