Apr 02, 2020
Feta fries was one of the Greek food items guests could buy during the 59th annual Fresno Greek Fest on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. (Larry Valenzuela/The Collegian)

Fresno Greek Fest beats summer heat

The annual Fresno Greek Fest returned for its 59th year with music, dancing, a variety of cuisine options and a tour of the Greek church at the cultural celebration.

The three-day event ran Aug. 23-25 on the grounds of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, located on the southwest corner of First Street and Clinton Avenue.

Admission tickets were $6 for adults or $5 online; seniors over 65 years old and children could get in for free. All ticket stubs allowed free admission for the Fresno Art Museum that same weekend.

For first-time visitors who had never been to Greek Fest, dance performances throughout drew the attention of the crowd and taught attendees about the history behind the traditional dances.

Adults and children joined in as they were cheered on in learning how to follow the demonstrations of rhythmic steps in circular formations.

Besides local performers from Fresno, there was also Greek international dancer Dimitri Arabatzis, who showcased his flexibility and balance in a two-man dance called Tsamiko.

“Tsamiko is like a military dance. The men and the head guy, or the leader, do all these tricks, and then they’ll usually switch it off and let somebody else do it,” Arabatzis explained. “It started as a military dance right before they [Greeks] went into battle. Now it’s become like a showoff dance.”

The event’s vendors displayed paintings inspired by Greek themes and sold items imported from Greece and other event merchandise to help fund the fest.

Next to the Greek market was a play area for children, equipped with several bounce houses and inflatable water slides, table games and an escape room, all provided by Gold Gulch Adventures, a family fun and entertainment program. 

Tickets were $1 for each ride; $10 for a wristband to unlimited rides; and $10, $12 and $15 for varying levels of the escape room. 

The food and baked goods offered may well be the main reason people return to Greek Fest year after year.

Athenian gyros (traditional pork sandwich), Greek fries and souvlaki (pork, lamb or chicken on a stick) were the hot items for customers at the mega booth outdoor grill, each costing $8 or less.

Greek pastries to take home were another fan favorite for customers, and the variety seemed to be endless due to the help of church volunteers who handmade everything from scratch.

To make Greek Fest possible, volunteers from the Greek church and Fresno State-affiliated groups provided a helping hand to make the community event a successful experience for the public and something to look forward to next year.

Fresno State Mock Trial Club member Marco Ramos was a student volunteer responsible for collecting admission tickets while also enjoying his first time at Greek Fest.

“I came here to help mock trial out. To help get some funds for the program, help us compete in different locations,” Ramos said. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people, and I’ve never been here before so just taking all the culture in – getting to experience something new.”

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