Deena Lawley, left, smiles as she helps Vivian Bautista, of Valparaiso, shop for treats at Greek Festival at the Porter County Expo Center in Valparaiso Friday June 17, 2011. Lawley, of Valparaiso, has been a member of St. Iakovos Orthodox church, the sponsor of the fferstival, for all her life. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
If you go
The St. Iakovos Greek Festival continues from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Sunday at the Porter County Expo Center, 215 E. Division Road, Valparaiso. Admission is free.
Updated: January 23, 2012 2:38AM
VALPARAISO — Sure, there’s baklava, but why stop there?
With table after table of tantalizing sweets, not to mention Greek chicken, shish kebobs and pastichio, similar to lasagna without the tomato sauce, there’s more than enough food at the St. Iakovos Greek Festival to satisfy any culinary desire.
The 27th annual festival kicked off Friday and continues through Sunday, offering food, music, drinks and the chance to raise funds for the church while sampling a wide array of delicacies.
Loucas Eleftheri, one of three coordinators for this year’s event, provided a shopping list of sorts for the weekend: 30 pounds of lamb; 500 pounds of souvlaki, for the shish kebobs; 360 chicken halves; and 900 pounds of gyros.
And that’s not counting all the desserts, made by the women of the Greek Orthodox church, which is housed in the old St. Paul school downtown and is raising money for a new facility on County Road 700N.
Money raised by the festival also goes to community programs supported by the church, Eleftheri, of Valparaiso, said.
“If we make $50,000, we’re happy. We’re such a small community,” he said, adding the Greek festival in Merrillville draws a larger crowd from throughout Lake County.
A small group, perhaps, but a mighty one, said Deena Lawley of Valparaiso, who helped staff the sweet table. She didn’t help bake this year, so she plans on spending the weekend on her feet, selling what others made.
The women of the church work hard to make all the desserts perfect, she said, including the galatoboureko.
“This is like an egg custard syrup cake full of fun,” she said by way of description. “It’s just amazing. It’s a very popular sweet here.”
The festival draws folks who want to try Greek food, including Vivian Bautista of Valparaiso.
“I just came off from work and thought we should try the Greek festival,” she said, adding she and her husband sampled the lamb and the chicken. “I said, let’s try it. We hadn’t tried Greek. It’s the first time. It’s very good.”