BROOKVILLE, NY – More than 15,000 people of all ages are estimated to have attended this year’s Greek Festival at the Church of the Holy Resurrection in Brookville, June 8-10 June.
Volunteers from all walks of life, and including many from the community’s 408 member families, worked hard to make the festival a success. The authentic Greek food, music and dancing, and the rides for the kids, attracted a large crowd of Greeks and non-Greeks to the festival.
“When we promoted the festival on Social Media, we had over 40,000 Facebook visits. With the evidence we have, we think that this weekend 15-20,000 people must have attended,” the Parish Council President, James Xanthos, told The National Herald, adding that it was a “fantastic” three-day event.
“The three days were fantastic for our community. The important thing is that we are trying to offer Greek hospitality, Greek religion, and our history. The weather also helped us a lot. Everyone has come to support us. With the Festival we financially support our community,” he added.
One of the changes for this year’s festival, besides some structural changes, was the fact that the preparation and serving of the food went to professionals.
Thus, the organizers preferred to make a mutually beneficial agreement with two well-known Greek food truck businesses (Uncle Gussy’s and King Souvlaki), relieving the community of the burden of preparing, baking, and serving food, which is the case for an overwhelming majority of similar events.
“This year we brought in the trucks to sell souvlakia instead of having to do it ourselves. Not only is the process of finding volunteers difficult, but maintaining the quality of the food is also difficult. Since they are professionals, the quality of the food is upgraded as well,” explained the co-president of the Festival, Stavros (Steve) Fegos.
On the same wavelength, the festival’s president, Charalambos (Bobby) Tsirakidis, also expressed his conviction that the bold – in many ways – changes were justified in practice.
“We have had great support from the Community. This year, with the two trucks, we did not need to be standing here selling souvlakia. We had the opportunity to walk around, supervise, greet and talk to the people who are here,” he said.
The turnout was relatively satisfactory even on Sunday, when the sky was constantly cloudy with occasional showers. However, the most productive day of the three was Saturday when there was live music and singing by Yianni Papastefanou and his orchestra.
“Our goal is to upgrade the community”
The Brookville community is growing, with ever-increasing prospects but also needs. As the Parish Council President pointed out, the economic “breathing room” that events such as the festival can help the community make important moves in the near future, such as the expansion of the Cultural Center.
“Like every community, we have obligations and other challenges. We can also manage our obligations. We want to expand our cultural center, to build additional rooms. Our Sunday school has 150 children and it is a matter of capacity,” said Mr. Xanthos.
His optimism that the available spaces will be expanded in the next two years was also shared by the presiding priest of the community, Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas.
“The community has been here in this church for 10 years, families have grown, we have over 400 member families. And we want to build a Gym within the next two years.”
The Parish Council President then added that the role of community and educational activities has multiple benefits for the younger generation.
“Out there, there are many factors that can negatively affect our children. We are trying to guide them through their religion, language, customs and traditions,” Xanthos concluded.