This weekend Bayou St. John will become the Aegean Sea as the New Orleans Greek Festival celebrates on its banks with traditional costumes and dances, flags flying and lamb roasting on open fires.
The first Greek Orthodox cathedral in North and South America, Holy Trinity Cathedral, will host the event for the 42nd year with traditional food and entertainment. Community members prepare the cuisine to keep it authentic.
“We have all of our traditional foods, with goat burgers and chicken and pork souvlaki,” Greek Festival co-chairwoman Gail Psilos said. “We do the roasted leg of lamb, which is very, very popular. And of course our gyros sandwich.”
Greek wine, pomegranate and mango daiquiris, ouzo, pomegranate ice tea and frappé — a frothy iced Greek coffee — also will be available at the festival. Baklava sundaes, Greek beignets with honey and cinnamon (loukoumades), and more than 20 pastries complete the festival menu.
The Hellenic Dancers perform three to four times a day, and school children will dance on Sunday as the Little Dancers.
“All of our youth of the community dress in the traditional Greek dress … and do a variety of dances based on the islands,” Psilos said. “They’ll teach (festivalgoers) how to dance Greek if they would like to.”
The Agora outdoor market allows people to bring home a little bit of Greece in the form of jewelry, clothing, paintings and music. But don’t stop there.
“They really should see the dancer show, buy a box of pastries and a traditional dinner,” Psilos said. “They must see a cathedral tour. That is really beautiful.”
Admission is $7 and free for those wearing a toga on Sunday. The festival is at 1200 Robert E. Lee Blvd. There is a free shuttle from the parking area at Robert E. Lee and Paris Avenue.