By PETE FONTAINE
Beginning tomorrow and continuing through Sunday, the parish grounds of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church will be transformed into a Greek Village for the 92nd annual Grecian Festival.
The event will feature traditional foods and pastries, music, dance, an indoor-outdoor Greek agora, or marketplace, children’s activities and the Rhode Island National Guard’s famous rock climbing wall. The church is located at 97 Walcott St. in Pawtucket.
Elli Panichas, a long-time public relations manager speaking on behalf of co-chairman John Zervas and Elaine Bassis, said the three-day extravaganza would be held rain or shine and mostly underneath huge cathedral-like tents.
“Admission is always free,” Panichas said. “There’s ample parking, and we also offer free shuttle bus service. People can park at the easy-access lot minutes away on Roosevelt Avenue across from Pawtucket City Hall.”
In keeping with tradition, guests will be guided into the festival grounds – where each area will carry the flavor of the beautiful Greek villages and islands – through a parade of flags.
“That special aroma of lamb roasting on the spit has drawn thousands of people to our festival throughout the years,” Panichas said. “Our Greek experience will feature an abundance of foods and pastries, all prepared on site. This is always a special time for the parish to showcase its Greek heritage, culture and Greek Orthodoxy as we commemorate the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.”
Of course, the Grecian Festival menu is Mediterranean Greek, rich with village foods and pastries.
“It’s all about our foods,” Panichas said. “There’s a tradition and reputation of serving outstanding food that’s prepared under strict guidelines for cooking and baking. The men of the parish prepare the meat serve on site while the dedicated women of the parish bake all the pastries and Greek casseroles in our professional kitchen.”
She offered a preview of the festival menu that will include roast lamb, baked lamb shank – the famous Greek Osso Bucco – chicken, ride pilaf, gyros, souvlaki, tiropetes, pasticcio, spanakopetes, stuffed grape leaves, moussaka and more.
Panichas said there would be a wide selection of Greek pastry, a café serving Greek coffee and an outside bar where people can enjoy their favorite beers, wines and cocktails.
Guests can also look forward to dance performances by the parish’s renowned Greek Pride dance troupe, which will again be dressed in costumes representing various regions of Greece, its villages, islands and mountain regions.
Festival hours are Friday, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, noon-10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-9 p.m.