AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The 30th annual Greek festival kicked off Thursday, Oct. 10, and will run through the weekend. Every year, thousands come out for the event and “become Greek for the weekend.”
Church member Alexandra McClain said, "It’s packed, it’s usually packed.” McClain is a 7th generation Greek in Augusta. Not only is she working during the festival at one of the food tents, she is also the church tour guide. She said seeing Augustans come out to enjoy her heritage and culture is something she looks forward to each year.
"It’s wonderful. It makes me go back and think of my grandfather when he came over in 1908, and what all he had to go through,” she said. McClain’s grandfather was one of many who worked to get a charter to host events like this in the city back in 1911. She said when she was a child, the church held barbecues at the Julian Smith Casino, but with the Greek festival at the church, they are able to share a lot more of their culture. She added, “Most of us in my generation went to Greek schooling and learned to dance and pray in Greek.”
Through this festival, older church members get to watch their grandchildren perform the same dances they learned as children. McClain said, “It’s another thing we pass on. We’re very much into heritage, tradition. That’s just who we are. We’re Mediterranean: we can’t help it.” She said that’s part of the reason the weekend is an all-hands-on-deck event for the 140 families in the church, and that the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church prepares non-stop for the festival each year.
Sixth and seventh generation Greeks like McClain say it is like a family reunion, and they are welcoming the rest of Augusta into that family. “Once you’ve come in and learned our faith, and eaten our food, what more do you need to know about us? We can dance, we can cook, we can eat and we can worship and pray,” she said.
Not only do you get to experience authentic Greek food, performances and shopping, but you can also take in some history with a free tour of the church. McClain said, “Watching people come in and see the beauty of the church is what’s amazing.” It is the oldest Orthodox Church building in the Southeast, and something McClain said leaves people speechless. “Their mouths drop open and they instantly get quite, because it is a very holy and reverent feeling to see all of this beauty,” she explained. People on the tour get to learn about the things in the church that are special to members. McClain says it’s the icing on the cake for a great event, and something you don’t want to miss.
She said, “Come down, be Greek for a weekend. It’s an event that you will never forget, and probably come back year after year.”
The festival will be going on at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. The event will be on Thursday, October 10 from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m., Friday, October 11, from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., Saturday, October 12, from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., and Sunday, October 13, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Church tours will be offered every other hour during those times.