Festival, Greek Eclipse in Omaha Draws Huge Crowd

Αssociated Press

Omaha's St. John the Baptist Church. Photo: Facebook/Omaha's Original Greek Festival

OMAHA, NE – Connected to the eclipse of the sun, this year's three-day festival of the historic Greek Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist in Omaha, has been held for over 40 years. The festival which began on Friday afternoon, August 18, and runs through Sunday night, August 20, attracts thousands of visitors every year.

However, this year there was another reason to join the great annual Greek festival of Omaha. The so-called "Greek eclipse", i.e. the identification of a long-awaited astronomical phenomenon with the events of this year's festival.

Since Friday, many people have flocked to the festival that combines Greek tradition, music and flavors, Greek culture, and Orthodoxy.

The festival was hosted in a space near the Church of St. John the Baptist, one of the most historic Greek Orthodox churches in North America. In Omaha, the Greek community has been active since 1904, and already by 1907 more than 2,000 Greeks lived in the surrounding area, mainly concentrated on the southern side of the city.

In 1909, 32 Greek-owned enterprises were registered, and at about the same time, the Church of St. John the Baptist began operating in its first location. Today, the presiding priest is Father Peter Pappas.

The Greek festival of Omaha also attracted the interest of local Nebraska media. The website refers to the "Greek eclipse" as well as to the variety of traditional dishes available to the visitors, prepared with the help of the many volunteers who contribute their time and efforts each year to the festival.

In the context of the Omaha festival, visitors had the opportunity to get to know the Greek Orthodox church which is in the Byzantine style through tours of the interior and commentary about its history and its contribution to preserving not only the faith but also the Greek identity in the region.

Preparations for the festival start months in advance. During the three-day celebration, attendees had the opportunity to learn Greek traditional dances. There was also a small market with souvenirs, pictures, clothes, handicrafts, and more.

This year’s excellent attendance was helped by particularly good weather. And, of course, the inexhaustible fun throughout the events. Special care was given to the younger generation with a lot of activities for children as well.

"One of the secrets of the success of the festival is traditional homemade flavors, food and sweets, thanks to the valuable help of our volunteers," the organizers report on their website.

It continues, “Many of these volunteer cooks and bakers often use recipes that can be traced to their great-grandparents and are characteristic of the mainland and islands of Greece.”