Annual Greek Festival gets under way Friday evening

LYNN ? For more than 30 years the St. George Greek Orthodox Parish Greek festival has brought the sights, sounds and smells of Greece to the heart of Lynn.The annual event draws nearly 15,000 visitors each year and Friday night at 6 p.m., fair-goers will flock to the rows of tents lining St. George Greek Orthodox Church’s parking lot off South Common Street for three days of Greek cuisine, music and dancing.The festival will include live entertainment, games, rides provided by Just For Fun, raffles and boutiques.This year attendees can purchase individual ride tickets or unlimited ride passes, which are $10 for Friday night and $20 for Saturday or Sunday.There is also plenty of food for sale so bring your appetite. Festival Chairman and Parish President John Meklis said the food at the festival is prepared by parishioners. Offerings include baked lamb, svoulaki, chicken kabobs and other authentic Greek dishes. Meklis recommended the pastichio, which is hamburg and pasta in a béchamel sauce, and moussaka, which is made of hamburg, eggplant and zucchini with béchamel sauce.One specialty item offered at the festival is locanico, which is made in Lynn by Old Neighborhood Foods. Locanico is pork sausage made with wine, orange peel and Greek spices.After your meal be sure to try one or more of the delectable Greek pastries baked by the ladies in the parish.Philoptochos is the Greek word for caring, sharing and helping others, which is what the women who belong to the Philoptochos Society at St. George do but they are also excellent cooks. On Tuesday morning, members of the society were busy at the church making the Baklava for the festival, which will be sold along with traditional Greek cookies including kourambiethes (a sweet butter cookie with powdered sugar) and finikia (sweet honey cookie sprinkled with cinnamon and walnuts).Diples, fried strips of dough topped with walnuts, cinnamon and honey, or Galaktoboureko (a filo dough with custard filling) are guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth.If you can’t decide what treat to try, grab a variety pack to take home. Be sure to stop by the booth where Angie Stamatopulos and her friends are making loukoumathes, which is a tasty Greek fried dough topped with honey, cinnamon and nuts. Stamatopulos, who is a young 80-something, has been making the delectable pastries at the festival for 30 years.Parishioner Arthur Markos is scheduled to serve as the DJ Friday evening. On Saturday at 7 p.m. “Do Re Mi” will take the stage at 7 p.m. and Sunday Orfeas, which is based in Lynn and Peabody, will perform from 7 p.m. until midnight.The height of the festivities is the five-dollar raffle that gives a lucky winner the chance to win $25,000 on Sunday. The drawing will be held Sunday evening at 11 p.m.The festival is open on Friday from 6 p.m. until midnight and on Saturday and Sunday it runs from 11 a.m. until midnight?rain or shine.Admission is free on Friday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission Saturday and Sunday evening is $2 for adults and children are free.

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