Gyros meat on spits gave off delicious aromas Thursday morning as volunteers sliced it in preparation for Niles' Big Greek Food Fest, set to open at 5 p.m. Friday.
Other volunteers--about 20 in all, with more pledged to arrive later in the day--worked outdoors to set up tables inside tents pitched in the parking lot. People hurried between the building and the tents outdoors making preparations.
is running the fest Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening.
Organizers promise lots of authentic Greek food, Greek music and more.
“We have been preparing this since January,” said Georgia Botsis, one of the lead coordinators.
Nearly 100 volunteers have been helping since Wednesday to get all the food prepared and cooked. Roughly 75 volunteers are cooking up a feast for the three day fest.
Last year 14,000 people showed up to the fest. This year organizers said they are hoping for a similar turnout.
“There are 650 families in the parish alone,” said Botsis.
One of the most notable features of the fest, she pointed out, is that none of the food is catered or microwaved; volunteers cook and prepare all the dishes by hand.
Some of the choices include gyros, roasted lamb, shish kebab, Athenian chicken, calamari, grilled octopus, Greek salad, spinach pie, baklava, and loukoumades (fried dough puffs with honey). There will also be wine, beer, ouzo and cognac in the Greek taverna.
When sated, fest-goers can enjoy live music, dancing, cooking demonstrations and Greek movies. Visitors will also be able to enjoy carnival games, and volunteers will give tours of the church. The fest will also feature a Kids Corner where kids can get their faces painted and do crafts.
IF YOU GO:
When: Friday, July 15, 5 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, July 16, 3 p.m. to midnight, Sunday, July 17, 3 p.m. to midnight.
Where: St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, 7373 N. Caldwell Ave., Niles. Look for the 10-foot-tall yellow inflatable balloon advertising the fest.
Parking: Volunteers will direct you to free parking.
Price: $2 admission, $1 seniors, free for children 12 and under and free to anyone arriving before 5 p.m. Click here for a free admission coupon for Friday only.