Bearden’s Greek Fest participants celebrate successful weekend of culture, dancing, food

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Photo courtesy of Anna Duffey

Abby Ann Ramsey, Entertainment Editor

Each year, St. George Greek Orthodox Church hosts “Greek Fest,” an entertaining event that invites the citizens of Knoxville to participate in a weekend of Greek culture.

This past weekend, they provided, yet again, a fantastic weekend for all ages with their 39th annual Greek Fest.

The event always provides an array of foods from the Greek culture that citizens can enjoy and learn about. These range everywhere from Greek pizza to the classic gyros that are so popular in Greece. Members of the church even begin preparation for the beloved pastries adored by Knoxvillians months prior to the actual festival.

In fact, the church never really stops planning for this amazing festival, year after year.

“The church and community start preparing for the next Greek Fest the day after the festival ends,” Bearden junior and member of the church Athena Marlar said.

The event is also known for featuring Greek dances put on by different age groups, including 1st-2nd graders, 3rd-5th graders, middle schoolers, and high schoolers. They even have groups that compete in a Hellenic Dance Festival.

Throughout the weekend, they use the dances to convey different aspects of the culture from different time periods. For example, they have traditional and modern showtimes in which they can show how the culture has evolved over time. In traditional shows, they wear costumes from specific regions of Greece, but in the modern shows, they dance to Greek pop songs that Americans probably have not heard before.

“It’s really an amazing experience to see the excitement in people’s eyes while we dance,” Bearden senior and member of the church Anna Duffey said. “Most of the people who come to Greek Fest are new to the culture, so it’s cool to see them learn from it and actually be excited.”

Greek Fest is an incredible way to bond people of all cultures around Knoxville and members of the church are grateful that they have this opportunity to provide something to the community, while raising funds for the church itself. They get to showcase how they celebrate their religion to people of every background.

“Greek Fest is about bringing our church community together to show the rest of Knoxville our religion and culture,” Marlar said.

Many of the students who dance have been part of the event for their entire lives. That made this past weekend difficult for seniors dancing for the last time.

“It’s really a bittersweet moment for all of us because we have all been dancing together since 1st grade, and now it has come to an end,” Duffey said.

Most graduating seniors will probably come back to help with the event in the future, so their time with the festival is not completely over.

More than 200 people from St. George Greek Orthodox Church work to put the event together. It draws in a huge crowd of people from all around the city, including students from Bearden.

“It was exciting to see, as I was dancing, many Bearden High School students coming to enjoy the event,” Marlar said.

Greek Fest is a wonderful festival for anyone looking to experience a culture not seen every day in Knoxville or even anyone looking for some authentic Baklava.