The Daily Gamecock

Columbia comes together to celebrate Greek culture

Columbia's 31st annual Greek Festival was held this weekend at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral. This annual event pulls people from all over the area together to enjoy Greek culture. 

The cathedral transforms for a weekend into a completely different space, allowing for vendors, food and entertainment native to Greek culture. Community members off all ages come to volunteer and share in this festival each year. Events include everything from a marionette show to craft beer tastings. This year included self-guided tours through the church, a Greek cultural exhibit, live Greek music and dancing and even a Greco-Persian battle re-enactment.

Kristin Shipley, a second-year international business student, went to the festival for the first time this year. She enjoys learning about different cultures, so the Greek folk dance performed by children was especially fun for her.

“I really love food, so it was really fun to be able to watch the dancing and eat delicious Greek food,” she said.  

The little shops set up around the festival sold handmade items, including ceramics and charms, as well as items that rep popular colleges. A buzz of people strolled from one to the next, looking for the best trinket to take with them. 

Anna Friedman, a fourth-year global studies communications student, was at the festival for the third time. Friedman keeps coming back because she loves the event as a whole and enjoys its unusual activities. 

“I love the food and all the shops are really unique and it’s just a fun atmosphere to come over the weekend," she said. "It’s different because it gives the community something to do together, that I normally would have never come down here, but it brings me to the Greek Church.”

The Greek Festival continues to bring in hundreds of families and students every year, including foreign exchange students such as Lobna Naguib, a fourth-year computer science and business double student from Egypt. Having already been immersed in American culture for a few weeks, Naguib was excited to experience Greek culture as well. 

“I thought it was very interesting in general," Naguib said. "I wanted to see the cultural aspects of the festival and how people from the Greece carry their culture to the U.S. I also wanted to have some Mediterranean food because it's close to Egyptian food."

With at least seven outside dining options and special food choices including gyros, salads, burgers, baklava ice cream and more in inside the cathedral, food is one of the biggest appeals of the festival.

Travis Zuidema, a fourth-year chemistry and art history student, returned to the festival for the third year in a row specifically for the gyros and craft beer. 

"It's definitely for the food, it’s all for the food,” he said. 

With so many things to enjoy, from artisan items to music to food, this year's Greek Festival was a success for shoppers, dancers and eaters alike.