A Little Bit of Greece in Asheville: Asheville's Annual Greek Festival
What: Asheville's Annual Greek Festival - culture, food, music, dancing and more - a weekend of fun!
When: Last weekend in September (begins Friday at 11 am, ends Sundays at 7 pm)
Where: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Montford (227 Cumberland Ave)
George Lamprinakos is passionate about the Greek Festival that takes place annually here in Asheville, North Carolina. “It’s a way to share our food, tradition, culture, and religion,” says Lamprinakos who acts as first chairperson of the festival.
After just a short stroll around the grounds of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Cumberland Avenue where the festival takes place, there is no doubt about it: There is something special about the Greek festival that provides a weekend of families, food, and cultural exploration.
At first the city supported the Asheville fall festival, which took place for years on Pack Square in downtown Asheville. According to the Asheville Citizen Times, the organizers were limited in how they could lay out their tents. The event organizers decided to host the festival at the Church and plan to continue hosting it in future.
Multi-generational and full of laughter from small children all the way to grandparents, the "Panageri" or festival gives the tight-knit Greek community in Asheville a chance to share its culture. It includes traditional Greek folk dancing, cooking classes, and jewelry and crafts. And the food! The culinary experience is one of the highlights of the festival.
With a grin on his face, Lamprinakos says, “People love the meatballs. A woman asked me what’s so special about them. She said they were the best meatballs she’s ever had! Well, I told her, it’s the oregano!”
If you don’t especially have a hankering for meatballs, don’t dismay. The festival is known for it’s wide variety of authentic and delicious Greek fare. Try the Kataifi, shredded filo stuffed with nuts and dipped in honey, or Pastichio, a baked casserole of ground beef and macaroni. Whatever your taste buds are crying for, you won’t find a lack of good treats to indulge in. The festival also offers imported Greek wine, an assortment Gyros, and a Kafenion (Greek for coffee house).
At the “Agora" or marketplace, you can find Greek clothing and religious icons, hand carved wood carvings, and other traditional Greek novelties. You can also shop for Greek food staples like spices and olive oil at the Bakaliko grocery store.
If you missed it last year, plan on checking out the Greek Festival every September (the last weekend, from Friday-Sunday). Lamprinakos says, “It’s a little bit of Greece in Asheville.