Greek Food Festival at Oakmont church finds recipe for success
When the Greek Food Festival at the Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church in Oakmont started 40 years ago, the famous honey balls might have been a little more moist than they are now.
“We started when our church was very small and out of date,” said Mike Contes, a longtime volunteer with the festival.
“The women were cooking honey balls with umbrellas because the roof was so bad and was leaking.”
Fast forward four decades. What started as a small event used to raise money for the Oakmont church now serves more than 18,000 honey balls to more than 20,000 attendees.
The festival, which starts Friday and runs through Sunday at the church at 12 Washington Ave., now raises money for philanthropic organizations throughout the Pittsburgh region.
“Things have changed quite a bit — but things haven't changed a whole lot,” Contes said with a chuckle. “I know we've gotten more successful at feeding large groups of people. We have lines, but they move pretty fast.”
Of course, lines are to be expected for the fresh Greek delicacies served every day, such as lamb shank braised in a rich tomato wine sauce and the supremely popular spinach pie encrusted with a light filo dough crust.
“We've maintained the quality of food from the beginning,” Contes said. “This is the same menu we had when we started.
“Of course, there have been tweaks here and there, but it's good, homemade cooking,” he said. “Not quite as good as yaya (Greek for “grandmother”) can make, but close.”
Contes said dinners will be served nightly until 9 p.m., but for those who have that late-night craving, a grill on the church's patio will cook until 11 p.m.
“We'll have the very popular gyros there,” he said, “as well as Greek fries and some other things.”
If for some reason the food doesn't strike your fancy, Contes said there will be nightly entertainment.
“We're going to have two Greek bands playing authentic Bouzouki music,” he said. “And people seem to really enjoy the Greek dancers that perform.
“The children dancers put on quite a show.”
There's only one item patrons to the festival need to remember, Contes said.
“Bring your appetite,” he said. “We have something for everyone. “We're so appreciative of the people who come back every year, and we can't wait to see all the new faces, too.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance reporter for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Allegheny County D.A.’s office rounding up drug suspects
- Buffalo Township grandma pleads guilty to selling hundreds of pounds of weed
- Police: New Ken drug suspect, Brandon Allen, used wrong name
- Indiana Township suspect accused of raping juvenile
- Apollo-Ridge school bus safety program aims to drive message home
- 7 in custody after New Kensington drug raid
- Upper Burrell man charged with sexually assaulting boy
- Tractor-trailer crash cleanup closes stretch of Saxonburg Boulevard for more than 12 hours
- Harrison woman dead in 3-car crash in Natrona Heights
- Sears at Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer closing in January
- Fawn fugitive Filous captured, jailed