FLORENCE, S.C. – The smells associated with Greek food – meat, greens and olives – hung in the air around the Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church Thursday afternoon.
Thursday marked the start of the church's 39th annual festival celebrating Greek culture and food. As in 2020, the festival is being held as a drive-thru meal service because of COVID-19 concerns.
Vicki Bouras was one of the people waiting in line to get food at the festival Thursday afternoon. She said she and her family loved the Greek festival, particularly the baklava (a flaky pastry filled with chopped walnuts, butter and honey syrup). She also said she wanted to show the children in her backseat that other cultures have things to offer.
"It's Greek Fest," Theresa Church said as she was waiting in line. "You got to come get some of the food and the desserts. The cannolis are spectacular."
George Kampiziones was one of the team leaders at the festival.
He said the festival – pre-COVID-19 – was developed to allow the community learn about Greek culture while enjoying the foods associated with the culture. Kampiziones added that previous festivals have offered church tours and events for children and adults.
Kampiziones added that as a team leader he was responsible for the operation of the event including the kitchen, the wireless ordering technology, and the handing out of meals.
"My name gets called a lot around here," Kampiziones said. "We have many Georges so you can imagine that everybody switches their heads."
The festival will continue from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the church at 2990 S. Cashua Drive [at the intersection of South Cashua Drive and Celebration Boulevard].
A menu located in the drive-thru lines listed chicken riganato (baked chicken marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and Greek spices), souvlaki (skewered pork tenders marinated in herbs, spices and olive oil), moussaka (baked layers of ground beef, eggplant and potatoes topped with cream sauce and grated cheese), dolmades (ground beef and rice wrapped in grape leaves with lemon sauce), and spanakopita (spinach, feta cheese and in a pastry) as main courses available with rice pilaf, Greek salad, spanakopita and bread for $13.
There is also the option to purchase spanakopita and dolmades in groups of six for $12.
A grilled chicken Greek salad is available for $12 and a Greek salad is available for $8.
Pastries and desserts available include six pieces of baklava for $15, six pieces of kourabides (shortbread almond cookies) for $10, six pieces of melomakarona (shortbread cookies dipped in honey topped with walnuts) for $10, six pieces of ahladakia (pear-shaped spice cookies dipped in honey syrup) for $10 and and 12 pieces of koulourakia (Easter cookies) for $8.