Tucson Greek Festival
Eat, drink and dance like a Greek
By Theresa Poalucci
You will want to go for the food, but stay for the entertainment, Greek boutique, Greek deli and so much more at this year’s Tucson Greek Festival, September 21-24. It all happens at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 1145 E. Ft. Lowell Road, Tucson.
“We have a lot of entertainment for everyone, but first and foremost is the Greek food,” said Anastasia Tsatsakis, Co-Chair for the festival. “Visitors will experience a variety of traditional Greek dishes and the pastries are so popular.”
From a lamb dinner to Greek salads to spanakopita, all the food is made by members of the church. And if you are interested in recreating one of the many tastes of Greece, there will be cooking demonstrations throughout the weekend.
“Another popular spot at the festival is our Greek Deli, where you can buy authentic ingredients to take home to your own kitchen,” said Tsatsakis.
Demonstrations will include how to make tzatziki yogurt sauce, which Tsatsakis says is great on turkey sandwiches instead of mayo! Visitors can also learn how to serve Saganaki, a flaming cheese appetizer that is sure to impress the guests at your next dinner party.
To wash down all the tasty treats, the Tucson Greek Festival offers two Tavernas, with domestic beer, Greek beer and wine, shots of Ouzo, Mastixa or Greek brandy, and Greek Street Punch.
Entertainment on two stages, includes Stigma — a high energy four-piece Greek band from Ohio. Also featured is DeeJay Serafim. His Greek background has made him particularly popular at Greek events throughout the country.
Visitors will want to participate in one of the many contests on stage this year, peruse the offerings of the vendors and allow your kids to have fun in the “Children’s Olympics” area, newly expanded to include slides, jumpies and games. There is also kid-oriented food, face painting and a rock climbing wall.
For a bit of Greek culture, be sure to catch the Pan-Athenian Dancers, a local Greek folk dance group. There are some 3,000 plus dances in Greece, with four being a common thread throughout them all… Kalamatiano (the national dance of Greece), Syrtos, Hasapiko and Syrtaki. Visitors are welcome to have their picture taken with the costumed dancers before or after their performances.
Church tours will be offered each day of the festival. Steeped in tradition, the Orthodox Church is rich with thousands of years of heritage, history and spirituality.
“The festival is a fund-raiser for the church,” said Tsatsakis, referring to the May 2013 fire that was started by a single candle. Parishioners have been worshiping in the undamaged hall since then.
“We plan to build a new church,” she continued, adding that they are in the process of searching for a perfect building site for the new location.
“You don’t have to be Greek to attend,” concluded Tsatsakis. “Our volunteers, more than 150, are ready to welcome all of Tucson to discover the food, music and traditions we cherish as a community.”
If you go: Admission is $3. Seniors 65+ and children under 12 are free. There is also free admission to active duty military, fire, police and first responders with valid ID. St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church is located at 1145 East Fort Lowell Rd, Tucson, 85719. Hours are Thurs., Sept 21 from 4 pm to 10 pm (this is also college night where students from the U of A get in for free with valid student ID); Fri., Sept 22 from 3 pm to 11 pm (this is also Arizona football day, where TVs will air the game; Sat., Sept. 23 from 12 pm to 11 pm (bring your ticket stub from the U of A game from the night before and get in free); and Sun., Sept. 24 from 12 pm to 6 pm. Parking is available behind St. Demetrios and there is a shuttle from Sacred Heart Church (601 E Fort Lowell Rd, Tucson) all four days of the event. For more information visit Home | Tucson Greek Fest
Pan-Athenian Dance Group Ministry at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church will perform.