Food comes first at Greek Fest in Valparaiso
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent September 20, 2013 7:42PM
Tim Bires (right) and Jim Condes toast pita bread and grill Greek sausage Friday at the Porter County Expo Center for the 33rd annual Greek Fest, which continues through Sunday. | Post-Tribune
If you go
The annual Greek Fest, which kicked off Friday, continues from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Porter County Expo Center, 215 Division Road.
Updated: October 22, 2013 6:14AM
VALPARAISO — This festival is clearly all about the food.
More than two dozen varieties of Greek pastries lined a table stretching almost from wall to wall at the Porter County Expo Center. The women’s group of St. Iakovos Greek Orthodox Church made the majority of the delicacies from scratch.
In preparation for the 33rd annual Greek Fest, the church’s biggest fund-raiser, Keith Hylek, the festival’s chair, oversaw the purchase of: 60 lb. of Greek sausage; about 500 lb. of pork loin; around 500 lb. of chicken; 25 cones of gyros meat, weighing in at 30 lb. each; 2,400 pieces of pita bread; and 10 gallons of tzatziki sauce.
All bets are on over which food will prove the most popular.
“People really love our shish kebab, but the Greek chicken is really making some strides,” Hylek said, crediting a new recipe.
The festival, which kicked off Friday, continues from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday at the expo center, 215 Division Road.
Between greeting parishioners, the Rev. Jim Greanias said the festival was moved from Father’s Day weekend to this weekend because there was less competition from other activities. It’s also exclusively inside for the first time.
“We had a couple of years of thunderstorms,” he said, which can hurt attendance.
The festival, which also includes live music and a bar, draws at least 3,000 people, though organizers said that number could be higher now that weather is no longer a concern.
The money raised by the festival goes back to the church, which moved to a new building at 36 W. County Road 700 North last October, after five years at the old St. Paul School downtown.
“It was supposed to be two years (at the school) and the recession hit and put us back, but God has his time for everything,” Greanias said.
Marie Johnson assisted with the pastries, and couldn’t be sure how many kinds there were without counting them. The effort on the sweets started in July, with the making of a honey-based syrup used in baklava and other goodies.
Other preparation took place in the run-up to the festival, and much of it has been completed since Monday.
“It’s been kind of intense,” the Portage woman said, adding she expected to be sticky until clean-up Sunday night.