The Yiasou Greek Festival invites the public to celebrate its 40th annual event on Sept. 7-10. One of Charlotte’s most popular cultural events, it is hosted by the parishioners of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral and takes place on the church grounds at 600 East Blvd.
The family-friendly weekend features authentic Greek cuisine, homemade pastries, live traditional music and dancing as well as shopping and cultural exhibits.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral community has chosen to dedicate this 40th anniversary event to the residents of Dilworth.
“The Yiasou Greek Festival is a true community event, and a way for us to share our culture with a city that has been so good to us,” says John Tsumas, Chairman of the 2017 Yiasou Festival. “The Dilworth community in particular has been with us from the beginning and has given us wonderful support over the years.”
Festival visitors can sample a variety of delicious Greek specialties, from gyros and spanakopita to roasted lamb and pastichio. Dessert alone is worth the trip; patrons can try homemade baklava and loukoumades, the popular honey drizzled doughnuts, or visit the kafeneio tent for Greek coffee and frappe. A drive-thru menu is accessible via Winthrop Avenue. Kid-friendly menu options are also available.
Back by popular demand, some of the best Greek cooks in the community will host live cooking demonstrations, during which they will share secrets of their beloved family recipes.
Live entertainment is the centerpiece of the festival atmosphere and takes place on one indoor and two outdoor stages. The main tent is filled with the sounds of the mandolin-like bouzouki, and dance performances are scheduled throughout the weekend. Two live bands will be on site, strolling the grounds and accompanying folk dance performances.
Traditional Greek folk dancing is presented by Holy Trinity’s youth, ages 5 to 25, who dance, sing, and play the instruments of their ancestral villages. Members of Thrylos, Holy Trinity’s award winning adult dance troupe, will lead folk dance classes on the main stages.
In addition to browsing a wide variety of specialty vendors selling everything from Greek art to jewelry and imported groceries, festival patrons can also enjoy Greek wine tasting or mingle with Spartan warriors in full armor.
Members of the reenactment group “The Warriors of Greece” will be patrolling the festival grounds and are happy to pose for a souvenir photo. Chris Pangalos of The Warriors of Greece will offer entertaining talks on the military tradition of ancient Greece. In addition, young men dressed as Evzones will present daily reenactments (Friday – Sunday) of the ceremonial Athenian changing of the guard.
Visitors who prefer to get away from the outdoor festival buzz can step into the Cathedral for a choir performance (2:30, 3 and 3:30 Saturday only) or for a guided tour (every hour on the hour, except 3 p.m. on Saturday) of its stunning Byzantine iconography and architecture. Built in 1954, the Cathedral is the vibrant center of the Holy Trinity community’s religious life.
Younger patrons will enjoy the enhanced Children’s Playland with rides, face painting and concessions.
Festival admission is $3. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Visitors who ride the Lynx or CATS bus to the festival will receive free admission when they show their same-day stamped ticket.
School groups and senior citizen groups can also make arrangements for free admission by contacting the church office between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. (Monday – Friday) at 704-334-4771 by August 31.
For more information and a full list of festival attractions, schedules and menus, visit www.yiasoufestival.org.