Greek food festival showcases culture, food, and faith

By on October 2, 2012
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On a Saturday afternoon in late September, the clouds hanging low and heavy over the city of Birmingham, thousands of people lined up around the block of the 40th annual Greek Food Festival, just to get a taste of the gyros and other feta-stivities. 

Every year, the Greek Food Festival draws one of the largest crowds of any festival in Birmingham. Mariah Gibson/Features Editor

It was absolutely shocking how many people showed up to this years Greek food festival. I spoke with Gerhard Graf, a patron standing in line about the turn out. “I work with with the non-profit group who puts on October-fest here in Birmingham, and I must say, seeing this kind of turn out is quite impressive,” Graf said. Birmingham’s Octoberfest is one that has been around for a long-time, but even long time supporters of that local tradition were in awe of just how popular the Greek Food festival has become in this town.

“I came here to get ideas for our event as well as support local events like this,” Gerhard went on to say while he stood in line for some Greek cuisine. The menu featured everything from Souvlakia to Baklava. Cars were lined up and down the block, and people were wrapped around for what seemed like miles. 

The turnout was more than impressive and the people in charge, the vendors and any other obviously Greek patron seemed to be more than amused at the interest that the public was showing in their own culture, especially in such dark times in Greece’s storied history. “This helps my children to appreciate Greek culture, but most important to us is our Church and the orthodox faith. All the singing and dancing is fun, but what I hope people appreciate most is our faith,” said Steve Leara, one of the volunteers helping at one of the over crowded food booths.

Children were dancing on stage to Greek tunes, while gyros were being tossed around like footballs. The Greek Food Festival is truly a sight to see in Birmingham. Not to mention it is firmly embedded in this town’s cultural framework; after 40 years on the block. What most impressed me about the Greek Food Festival was the people’s vigor and dedication–not to mention resolve–after standing in line for what must seem like hours to get their hands on one of those priceless, authentic pitas.

As Greece faces uncertain times ahead, it must be encouraging, if only for the Greek population in Birmingham, to see such a positive turn out for the yearly celebration of their culture and cuisine. I believe it was Epicurus who once said “It’s not what we have, but what we enjoy, that constitutes our abundance.”

Cody Owens
Staff Writer
cjowens@uab.com

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