Cranston, RI Greek Festival Brings Food, Music and More September 5

CRANSTON, RI – Rhode Island residents are looking forward to the return of the Cranston Greek Festival this weekend.
The three day festival is in its 29th year, and many people – Greek or not – will be enjoying the live music, dancing, and family time together at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation.
Lise and Andrew Mihailides stopped by with their children to talk about the big event coming up September 5 – September 7.
• Watch the attached video for the entire interview.
Learn more about the Cranston Greek Festival:
Food is a central part of Greek culture. There is never a gathering without food. The Greek Festival started as a small parish picnic celebrating the feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary. When the church moved to Cranston, parishioners started inviting their friends. Then it became a church fundraiser and they started advertising to the public sometime in the 1970’s. First, it was one day and then two days. In 1985, it grew into a 3-day festival because the demand was so large. It takes place every year now on the weekend after Labor Day.
The Cranston Greek Festival is one of the largest Greek Orthodox festivals in New England.
It is the main fundraiser for our church, the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation.
The festival is made possible by the time and effort put in by the devoted parishioners.
Father Andrew George has been the parish priest since 1983 and Father Emanuel Chris has been involved in the church since 2006.
Theofanis Markos has chaired the festival since 1996.
Koula Rougas has chaired the pastry baking since around 1988. She, along with many other parishioners, spend hours preparing all the pastries. Koula has also been the Odyssey Dance Troupe (traditional Greek dancing) Director for many years. She now directs the dance group with her son, Dr. Steven Rougas. She has been the Greek Language School director for over 40 years.
All of the food and pastries are prepared in the kitchen of our parish hall, from scratch. Every recipe is authentic.
Some of the food offered includes: Roasted lamb, roasted chicken and pork souvlaki, gyro, pastitsio—pasta, ground beef and béchamel sauce, loukaniko—a Greek sausage, spanakopita—spinach pie, and tyropita—cheese pie.
Desserts include: Baklava, koulourakia (butter cookies), kourabiedes, melomakarona, diples, karidopita, kataifi, and rice pudding.
There are also two versions of fried dough available: loukoumades (like a donut hole but with syrup on it and a choice of nuts and/or cinnamon). Three is also the well-known Gus’s doughboys of Oakland Beach fame.
One pastry, galaktoboureko—layers of phyllo dough filled with a custard and glazed with honey syrup—is prepared fresh, every morning on the days of the festival.
Parishioners make over 35,000 pieces of pastry every year.
If you like strong coffee, there’s something for you to enjoy at the festival:
• The iced coffee drink of Greece is called a frappé and is a staple at all Greek cafes. It has a distinctive layer of foam on top.
• The hot coffee is made from roasted and finely ground coffee beans, boiled in a small pot, and served in an espresso-size cup.
• Once you drink the coffee, you’ll find the coffee beans have settled at the bottom.
• There is also a nice variety of Greek wines and Greek beer.
This year, the church is raffling off a new, Toyota Corolla or $15,000 cash — winner’s choice! Tickets are $50 and only 1,000 tickets will be sold.
Odyssey Dance Group
• There are over 80 members are in the dance troupe. There is a children’s group and an adult group.
• Greek dances are expressions of historical significance and cultural pride.
• Some of the men’s dances represent how strong the men are and some represent courtship.
• Performances are at 7 p.m. on Friday. Two shows on Saturday and Sunday –4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Children’s Area
Check out all the kid’s favorites. Face painting and crafts.
There is also a “Bouncy House” that is free from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
People can learn about the oldest church in the world:
• Brief tours of the church are provided by Father Andrew and Father Emanuel.
• There are video presentations shown throughout the day in the parish library some on a cultural theme and some on a religious theme (indoors with A/C).
• And every evening at 6 p.m. there is an Orthodox Christian service in the church.
Check out the Facebook page Cranston Greek Festival where you can find out all the information about the Festival. Please “Like It” and share it with your friends.
• Friday, 5-10 p.m.
• Saturday, 12 p.m. -10 p.m.
• Sunday, 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Street parking is available. Also, additional FREE parking is available at Cranston West High School (on Curtis Street). Shuttle buses leave every 10 min until half hour after closing.
By Mary Karalis, WPRI.COM