Memory and legacy are all part of the fun and food that are synonymous with Greek Fest, the 38-year old festival of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church (and successor of the first Greek Festival of the parish, which was called the Constantinople Bazaar and held on May 1, 1949).
Tragedy, however, struck the traditional Festival and St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church (built and consecrated in 1968) last year, when the Church’s sanctuary was partially destroyed by fire in May 2013.
But a resilient congregation is back at work with its labor of love, and – through volunteer will and expert programming — the close-knit community is bringing the Festival back to Tucson again this week. Although sanctuary repairs are not yet been completed, the congregation has decided to move forward with the Festival to help raise funds to continue the restoration.
For those interested, a section of the burnt sanctuary will be open to the public during the Festival, with icons that survived the fire on view.
The kitchens at St Demetrios again will prepare aromatic ethnic dishes of Greek meat balls, Souvlaki, Spanakopita, as well as honey-rolled diples, baklava and other traditional foods.
In addition to performances by Greek traditional music groups and Panathenian Dancers, the Festival features a Greek Market with locally-made Greek Spice Blends, Hummus, candies, jewelry and collectibles. Guest lecturers (from the University of Arizona Classics Department) include:
Women of Power in Ancient Greece, Dr. Bella Vivante, Professor emerita, UA (7pm, Thursday), Life in a Greek Village, Mr. Rip Economou, former Lecturer, UA (8pm, Friday), and Archaeological Explorations in the Aegean: Enigmatic Sculptures, Ceramics & Landscapes, Dr. Eleni Hasaki, Professor, UA (7pm, Saturday).
General admission is $3 per person per day, with free admission for children under 12 and active duty military with ID. There is free admission to seniors over 60 on Saturday, from 4-6pm. Learn more about the Greek Fest: http://www.tucsongreekfest.com/