(July 26, 2019) This weekend, Grecian culture enthusiasts and curious guests can enjoy music and food during the 30th annual Greek Festival, held at the Ocean City convention center on 40th Street.
“The Greek festival is a compilation of everything Greek,” said Dr. Alexandra Hall, festival promotion, volunteer and raffle coordinator. “It’s for people who are Greek to experience their own heritage and get to eat Greek food and do Greek dancing, which is a very limited thing here.”
Greek food is the main attraction of the festival, with choices such as half chickens, gyros, shish kabobs, grape leaves, meatballs, spanakopita (spinach pie) and baked lemon chicken. Vegetarian favorites include baked veggies and oven cooked potatoes.
“The main reason people come to the Greek festival that aren’t Greek is for the food, and Greek food is hard to come by in our area,” Hall said. “We have all the traditional favorites.”
Some of the authentic Greek cuisine served at the festival will be moussaka (eggplant and spiced ground beef topped with a béchamel sauce), souvlaki (marinated pork with pita), stuffed zucchini, Greek salad and pastitsio (lasagna with two layers of macaroni, spiced ground beef and cheese topped with béchamel sauce).
For guests with a sweet tooth, desserts come in a variety of rice pudding, loukoumades (honey pastries), koulourakia (egg cookies), kourabiethes (butter cookies), tsoureki (sweet bread) and the most famous of all, baklava.
“It’s a great family fun atmosphere,” Hall said. “Everybody loves Greek food. I’ve never heard of anyone not loving Greek food.”
All menu items will be offered starting at noon for dine-in or carryout. However, many of the most popular foods tend to run out by the end of Saturday.
In addition to the food, participants can shop for jewelry, art, clothing, music, imports, toys and other merchandise in the vendor booths.
On Saturday, Golden Flame, a Greek Bouzouki band, will bring Grecian sounds to the convention center. The band will play throughout the festival daily with live performances from noon to 2 p.m. and 5-11 p.m.
Returning by popular demand this year are the Boston Lykeion Ellinidon Dance Troupe. The group will represent Greek folk dances and will perform at 4:30, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Up to 5,000 people attend the only Greek Festival on the Eastern Shore each year from Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, New York and Washington D.C.
“We really try and reproduce the Greek experience in the convention center for our festival followers,” Hall said. “For people who can’t get to Greece that would just like to have a fun experience, we try to give a little snapshot of everything Greece has to offer.”
Two raffles will take place at the event called the “Best Odds in Town,” which gives ticket buyers a 1-in-200 chance of winning a minimum of $5,000, and up to $10,000. Tickets cost $100 each and only 200 will be sold.
A second raffle offers a chance to win $1,000. The cost is $5 for six tickets. Drawings will take place on Sunday, around 8 p.m., though participants do not need to be present to win. Participants must be 18 or older.
Raffle tickets can be purchased online at www.oceancitygreekfestival. com using a credit card or PayPal.
Guests can also take advantage of the Selfie/Photo Op backgrounds of ancient Greek Ruins of the Parthenon or the whitewashed, blue domed Church village scene at the festival.
Children can partake in face painting and a crafts booth sponsored by the St. George Sunday School students.
All proceeds from the festival support the St. George Greek Orthodox Church’s community and ministry programs on 88th Street.
“This festival is really the largest fundraiser for the little St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Ocean City,” Hall said. “We are a stewardship-based church, so we don’t have dues to keep the church supported, but we have stewardship and whatever people want to give. Then the difference is made up with the proceeds of the festival.”
The 30th annual Greek Festival is free to attend and takes place today and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.
“At night it turns into a night club, dinner and dancing, and entertainment atmosphere,” Hall said. “During the day it’s a leisurely lunch and shop in the market atmosphere.”
For more information, visit www.oceancitygreekfestival.com, or check out the Greek Festival Ocean City Maryland on Facebook.