Flavors of Greece Festival Illinois
This weekend my family and I attended one of our favorite spring festivals – The Flavors of Greece Festival at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles. This annual festival is hosted by St. Athanasios Greek Orthodox Church located in Aurora, IL. My family and I have been visiting for the past 5 years although the festival itself was created in 1979. A good friend of ours, Gretchen, has been attending this festival for decades and is also a favorite of hers. For the past couple years, this festival has moved to the new large exhibition building in the Kane County Fairgrounds and has expanded every year.
This year, the old standbys that we love including the greek market, food tent, dancing and Ouzo were there again. This year we were especially excited to see a HUGE addition to the festival – cooking demonstrations throughout the day on how to cook Greek food sponsored by KitchenAid. Now, truth be told, I like to re-live the Flavors of Greece Festival throughout the year at my home. That usually involves a huge plate of Souvlaki (marinated, grilled pork medallions) with homemade Tzatziki Sauce (cucumber, garlic and yogurt) so I’ve generally been making these items for years. But I did learn some great tips at this year’s demostration on cooking Souvlaki. We did miss a later demonstration on working with Phyllo but the chef doing the demonstration (who I regrettably didn’t catch the name of) was engaging and informative and the crowd listening was packed.
Once again the Flavors of Greece Festival included Greek music by GNV Productions and dancing by the Appollo Dance Troupe. This is always a favorite of ours – the dancing and uniforms are quite unique if you’ve never seen it. Our little daughter loved this and wanted to join in and take part so badly it was tough to hold her back from running out there onto the dance floor. The dancing is always done in the food tent so it’s a great place to sit back with a plate of Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) or one of the several Greek food plates being offered. The food is always delicious – if you’ve never tried the Moussaka (Greek lasagna) or Pastitsio (Macaroni and ground beef), these dishes offer some unique flavors that makes Greek food so interesting. In the past it’s always been difficult for us to choose what to get – this year, Flavors of Greece made it easy. They offered “Mean add-ons” – basically a piece of Moussaka, Pastision or a skewer of Souvlaki along with any other dinner plate for a reduced price. This was perfect for us – we got a seperate piece of Pastitsio for our daughter and got to enjoy what she didn’t finish. Plus I got my Gyro and Souvlaki combo fix and still got to have some Pastitsio without having to pay full price for a whole additional dinner. Kudos to the organizers for these new items!
This year, we invited my wife’s parents to go with us and while they were initially hesitant, I think they had a good time. It seems like many ethnic-oriented festivals can be a little intimidating if you’re not a member of that ethnicity – there’s always the hesitation that you’re going to do something “not the right way” and make someone mad or make a fool of yourself. However, I’ve found that to almost always not be the case here in Illinois with pretty much any festival (and we try and hit them all). In fact, the Flavors of Greece Festival is very welcoming to us non-Greeks and the motto has always been “Be Greek For a Day”. Everyone is always so friendly at this and other area ethnic festivals (like Swedish Days, Cinco de Mayo, Polish Festival Chicago and others) it really makes participating fun. The Flavors of Greece Festival runs through the end of today and if you miss it this year, definatley put it on your calendar for next year.