Annual Greek Food Festival continues this weekend in Oakmont
The annual Greek Food Festival at the Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church in Oakmont is less about the food and more about fellowship for the volunteers.
Around 200 people prepare, serve, cleanup and perform in the three-day celebration along Washington Avenue.
It’s running through Sunday. The festival is open from noon to 11 p.m. each day.
“People kind of migrate to an area that they like working at and they like the people they’re working with,” event coordinator Andy Gavrilos said. “We have a few floaters. Mostly the gyro crew’s the same, the bar crew’s the same, the honey balls are the same. … I think they’re very efficient at what they’re doing.
“Plus, there’s a little bit of gamesmanship between the teams. Who sells the most, who serves the most, who’s got the best food.”
This year marks the 45th installment of the church fundraiser.
More than 4,000 people are expected to make their way into Oakmont this weekend.
Panagiotis Mikroudis and Ray Zelizik have grilled lamb kabobs at their station the past five years. Both have been involved with the church close to a decade.
“It’s expertise at your craft instead of being a jack of all trades and master of none,” Zelizik said.
Young volunteers pitch in, too
The volunteer spirit has trickled down to the younger generation.
Andrew Kratsa, 11, of Fox Chapel followed in the footsteps this year of his older brother Wil, 13. They, along with cousins Payton Shurina, 15, of Dorseyville and Lena Carson, 13, of Pittsburgh, all served patrons in the pastry room.
“This is my first time,” Andrew said. “I think it’s pretty fun. I decided I wanted to do it because my older brother was doing it, and I try to help out because I think it’s fun to help people. I like the baklava.”
Gavrilos said he expects they to serve between 7,000 and 10,000 gyros and more than 4,000 dinners by the end of the festival.
“We’re very fortunate,” Gavrilos said. “The community supports us rain or shine. We’re very lucky. I like the camaraderie that it promotes. There’s a little bit of playful banter between the groups. It helps promote the team. It’s not an easy task to do all this.”
Lisa Minor of Brackenridge came down immediately after a Friday shift as a pharmacy technician at the Hillman Cancer Center to pick up food for her and her husband. She left with a beach-style tote bag full of goodies.
“(We get) pretty much everything. The lamb’s our favorite,” she said. “Last year, I spent $130 on my to-go food. You can’t get this stuff at home.”
All the traditional favorites were on the menu from gyros, lamb shanks, fried smelts, chicken Alexis, souzoukakia and pork souvlaki. Food comes from local distributors.
Desserts include honey balls, a variety of baklava, brownies, a walnut cookie called finikia and galatoboureko, a flaky custard treat.
The festival also features performances by the Grecian Odyssey Dancers of East Pittsburgh. Attendees learn more about Greek culture and observe religious items on display from the Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery.
Admission and parking are free. No pets are allowed.
More information is available at dormitionpgh.org or by calling 412-828-4144.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .