Sunday, September 12, 2010

OPA! on a Sunday Afternoon

September through October in Salt Lake City is "Fest" season.

The Annual Greek Festival was a FOUR day event this year; the thing just keeps growing and growing.

This past weekend it was possible to attend a Beer Fest, a Brazil Fest, the Utah State Fair, Craft Sabbath at the public library (where artisans would be on site working on their art) and the re-opening of a local sculpture garden all within two or three miles from each other.

That is, you could attend those events, or a crazy list of plays, concerts, and art gallery openings.

Well, for me, Greek Fest was at the top of the list, and while I really would have liked to have seen the Craft Sabbath, I will be able to work in the sculpture garden some other time. I didn't have a problem with skipping the state fair this year as I had just gone last year.

The newest fair food was to be deep fried batter dipped bacon drizzled with chocolate, and deep fried whole dill pickles.

Thanks but no thanks. I'm good with just having Greek food this year!

Here's the scene at 4 o'clock Sunday, the last day of the festival. Packed to the rafters, still.

People eat while enjoying the Greek dancing. I was so impressed when I learned that the dancers are only allowed to be part of the dance presentations during the Fest if they have had 75% Sunday School attendance all year. The dancing is nearly continuous; children begin to dance at about age three. The college age kids are not under Sunday School attendance requirement however. Bernie suggested that perhaps the college kids continued to dance in order to meet girls or guys?

Our table mate said no, in fact she has a 26 year old son who still dances, but when she suggested that surely there was one or more suitable girls in the mix, he owned that since they had all grown up dancing together, it would now be like dating a cousin or something.

Such a problem is not uncommon in small ethnic communities. The Greek community is SLC is the largest Greek community west of the Mississippi however. Maybe the Greek communities need more travel/visit opportunities?

OK...I'll confess: We go to the fest for the food.
My jaw dropped when the Master of Ceremony's said that the Greek Festival is made possible by the work of FIVE HUNDRED volunteers!

I know they make the food and the pita bread and souvaki is barbecued right before our very eyes. The line for the food snakes back and forth half way across the tent four or five times. Funny thing: Each time I have gone to Greek fest, I wind up killing time (even though the line is very fast moving, these Greeks know what they are doing!) by noticing the shoes on the feet around me. Everyone seems to wear the most interesting shoes!

This time, I showed a little maturity and didn't take pictures for the blog. Aren't you proud of me?

Obviously the thing to do is to have lunch and dinner there, every day for the full four days. We got a nice plateful of things, and three kinds of pastry, but really didn't scratch the surface of possible treats. Next year I will try to remember to clear the calendar for some serious Greek food consumption.
(Don't those Greek fries sound like a tasty treat? I didn't get any, but think I might try to find a recipe to make them some time.)
There is just something about seeing kids dressed in a folk costume. Especially if the kid in question is actually from that "folk" group!
The kids seemed to really enjoy the rhythm of the classic Greek music and put a lot of energy into their performances. I could imagine their great, great grandparent's dancing the dances while making eye contact with the boy or girl they were sweet on.
Each Greek area has its own style of dress. The red and white with the gold coins must have been a rather prosperous area, compared to the simple white frocks with blue sashes and lacy head scarves.
All the costumes were quite charming.
I have to wonder why Greek costumes have had little impact on the fashion industry, aside from the classic Greek fisherman's cap and shoes.
I do understand why the Greek men's white skirt and red vest costume has not had much a following, but serious, don't you think the full sleeved and gathered yolk's men's shirt are kind of nice looking?
So practical, especially when Greek wives are making such delicious foods for their enjoyment.
A few pounds put on over the years wouldn't matter; those full shirts would still be fitting quite nicely!
We would have probably needed to have gone up a size after our tasty meal if we hadn't spent Saturday as we did...
To be continued!


Sara said...

Mmmmmm! I'll have the gyros, please! Lots of tzanziki on it too. And baklava.

Speaking of bacon and chocolate (to change the subject) I've noticed a chocolate bar with bacon at the World Market recently. It intrigues me but I'm too cheap to pay a whopping $6 for a candybar!

Marg said...

Opa! I loved your title.
I was on my way to Hawaii with my little grandson, when he turned around on the plane and said, OPA, and the whole plane started cheering along with him.
I love Greek food and make that a weekly stop...and I love their dance and music....
I didn't know they allowed a beer festival in SLC. We had a difficult time finding wine...

Vee said...

We have a wee little Greek festival in our corner and I always love attending though haven't for several years. It's held at the Greek Orthodox Church. There are many volunteers there as well. Yes, I think I need one of those white full shirts myself. The costumes are indeed charming. Oh, my advice to the young man is to go ahead and date "a cousin." To marry a good friend is the best way to go!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

What fun! This reminds me of the Folklorama we attended in Winnipeg a few years ago. We ate ethnic foods and watched native dance at the Paraguayan, Swiss and Jewish pavilions. It's sort of like going on a mini-vacation.

Your Greek dishes sound inviting...the line-ups, not so much!

ellen b. said...

Looks like a great event for sure! I'm curious as to how you can work off Greek food :0)

Vicki said...

I didn't see saganaki (OPA!) on the menu! That makes it a real celebration!

I enjoy being around the Greeks when they're making/serving/eating food...they do make it fun.

The chocolate-bacon-thing sounds pretty...well, ugh! me, but I do love fried pickles (I've never had a whole one fried, just slices or strips). Gyros with tzatziki sauce...yum!

Julie said...

Ohh ! what fun! I'll be back for part two !

Jill, I love how your mind works.. thanks for your comment on my last post! It made me smile and laugh and love it !

Lovella ♥ said...

I could go for some souvlaki and pita bread and tzatziki. .love that stuff.
Oh ..I do wish you would take pictures of the shoes.
It actually didn't sound that different from the event I attended except for the dancing of course. .couldn't have done that.