Harford's 10th annual Greek Festival continues Sunday

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The food is a big hit at 10th annual Greek Festival

The lesson in Greek dancing was over, but 4-year-old Lucy Fratta kept twirling and kicking to the Greek music coming over the PA system in The John Carroll School gym.

Lucy's grandmother, Corinne Michocki, of Bel Air, recorded the impromptu dance on her smartphone, art of their time spent Saturday taking in food, music, dancing and culture at the 10th annual Greek Festival. The festival continues Sunday from 12:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.

"It's a very nice assortment of Greek jewelry, food, people dancing," Michocki said. "It's very well put together."

She and her granddaughter are regular attendees of the annual festival, which is put on by the Sts. Mary Magdalene and Markella Greek Orthodox Church in Darlington.

"I like dancing!" Lucy said.

The festival started Friday, continued Saturday and wraps up Sunday. The Sunday hours are noon to 7 p.m.

"It's been going really well," Tina Stavrou, a co-chair of the festival, said. "We've had lots of people coming in for food."

The festival was originally held at the church in Darlington, but it was moved to John Carroll in 2014 as organizers sought a larger venue to handle the crowds.

"It's a better environment," Stavrou said. "It's larger and more in the mainstream Bel Air area."

The Rev. Gregory Gilbert, the church's presiding priest, noted "we've been able to double and triple the number of people coming through," since moving the festival to John Carroll.

The festival is a major fundraiser for Sts. Mary Magdalene and Markella – the parish was founded in 2004, and the money raised helps cover day-to-day operations, according to Gilbert.

This year's festival drew people from throughout Harford County, including first-time visitors and regular attendees.

"I've been coming to this event for many years," Dan Cudone, a Bel Air resident, who has served on the John Carroll Board of Trustees, said.

The food is his favorite thing at the festival. He described the items on the "massive" menu as "homemade" and "very, very good."

"People have a good time," Cudone said. "Everyone talks to each other, smiles at each other whether they know each other or not."

His girlfriend, Cindy Karras, of Bel Air, also enjoys the festival.

"I like the food, I like the atmosphere," she said.

Jean Walker, of Belcamp, talked with church member Erin Kaminaris at a table laden with Greek pastries and sweets, which had been made by members of Sts. Mary Magdalene and Markella.

Walker said she purchased "a wonderful assortment" of pastries. Saturday was the first time she has visited the Greek Festival.

"I didn't even know they had a Greek festival like this," she said. "I would have been to every one."

Walker lived in Baltimore's Greektown neighborhood for about 15 years, and the pastries on sale Saturday reminded her of the treats Greek women in the neighborhood gave her when they baked.

"I was embraced by that community as a young mom," she said.

Church members took over the John Carroll kitchen as they prepared a variety of Greek foods, such as souvlaki – roasted seasoned chicken or pork – roast leg of lamb, moussaka – eggplant combined with potatoes, ground beef and sauce – Greek-style salads, as well as traditional American fare – hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries.

Visitors could also get a Greek version of the fries, with tomato sauce and feta cheese.

Many festival visitors ate in the school courtyard, where the smell of loukoumades cooking wafted over them. The pastries were being cooked at the Sweet Greek Grill stand – the dough was fried in oil, then dipped in a honey syrup and dusted with powered sugar or cinnamon.

Church member Kaminaris, who lives in Forest Hill, said she handles many questions about Greek foods.

"We get questions on how to pronounce things and what's in [the food]," she said.

Kaminaris is not of Greek descent, but her husband's parents are Greek. Her husband, Stylianos, is part of the first generation of his family born in the U.S.

She, her husband and their two daughters, Sophia, 14, and Madeline, 11, all work at the festival, which the family has been doing since Madeline was baptized, Kaminaris said. She noted her mother-in-law runs the dessert table.

The festival gives her daughters an opportunity to connect with the Greek side of their family.

"They've learned a lot about the language," Kaminaris said. "They like doing the dancing, and they learn about the food."

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