Greek Fest marks 75th June 22-24

Seventy-five years strong after starting as a back yard church picnic, Sheboygan’s Greek Fest marks its diamond year returning to Deland Park in Sheboygan from June 22-24 to celebrate and share its Greek heritage with lots of great traditional food.

While the tents go up, the pans of honey doused pastry baked in the days right before are delivered to the festival grounds. The grills are hot for the first gyros and chicken dinners to be served up at 5 p.m. on Friday’s opening night.

The lake shore setting is reminiscent of the Greek lsland shores, but the large tent used to serve all the food can shelter the costumed dancers and those in attendance from any abrupt change in the local weather.

This year’s festival brings back other favorites, including Greek salad, hot spinach pies and specially seasoned Greek fries with yogurt sauce. There are alternatives for the less adventurous, including chicken tenders, hot dogs, roast corn, and seasoned cheese curds.

Greek Kabobs, made of seasoned grilled pork, return in limited numbers. Greek yogurt parfaits will also return and flavored shaved ice will make its debut.

The crowds always get “fired up” for the saganaki, or flaming cheese. lt’s a fest favorite to yell “Opa” as the cheese is ignited, then doused in lemon juice, and served hot off the grill with pita bread.

When the women of the church tackle baking thousands of pieces of traditional pastry to package and sell, they also make sure to crumble enough baklava to top the “Never on Sundae” ice cream dishes. Also “hot” are the loukoumades, fried Greek donuts drenched with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. Other specialty pastry, coffee, and beverages will be available.

In honor of this Diamond anniversary the raffle items this year will be a diamond necklace from Rudnick Jewelers and a free taste of everything at the newer Taste of Greece event in March. There is no need to be present for the drawing on Sunday.

Tickets are available for Saturday and Sunday’s children’s bouncing tent, face painting, trampoline bungee jumping, and swimming pool hamster balls. Costumed folk dancers will perform each day, starting Friday evening at 6:30 p.m., three times on Saturday and twice on Sunday. The event is family friendly with tables to dine around the grounds or food available to take home.

On Sunday, the public is invited to attend the Greek Orthodox Divine Liturgy, with Fr. Leo Gavrilos officiating, at 9 a.m. under the festival tent. lt is the only time each year that the liturgy is offered at an outside venue, and the service will also be in English. Join in for a complementary cup of coffee and Greek pastry right after the service. The food stand opening will follow soon after the service ends.

Originally a one-day “back of the church” family picnic at its sponsor, St. Spryidon Greek Orthodox Church, the event grew, moving first to Kiwanis Park, and now to its three-day long location at Deland Park.

The festival is the major fundraiser for the landmarked St. Spyridon Church, which is one of the oldest original Greek Orthodox Church structures to still host services in the U.S.

There is no admission, and free lot and street parking surround the festival’s lakefront site. For more information and up-to-date food and entertainment details, please visit www.shebovgangreekfestival.com.


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