GreekFest celebrates culture and Orthodox faith

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GreekFest always has a dual purpose.

“Fun is definitely part of it, but we would love for everyone to learn about Greek culture and our Orthodox faith,” GreekFest President Christopher Lafter said. “Going back to the first festival in 1973, it’s been our goal to welcome our friends, family and the central Indiana community into the Holy Trinity community to share our culture and faith.”

The 46th annual Indy GreekFest will run Aug. 23 to 25 at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 3500 W. 106th St., Carmel. Holy Trinity held its first service on Christmas Eve 2008 and held its first GreekFest in 2009.

“We want (visitors) to enjoy the food, the music and have a good time,” Lafter said. “It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun because everybody always enjoys sharing our food and our faith with the visitors.”

Lafter had been in charge of the festival’s Grecian grills for several years before becoming president this year.

Lafter, an Indianapolis resident, said the festival is, for the first time, partnering with the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis because it has an Ancient Greece exhibit. The Children’s Museum is a sponsor and is providing some activities for the children’s booth.

As customary, several dance troupes of varying ages will perform traditional Greek dances throughout the day. However, a new feature is the young adult group will offer Greek dancing lessons between performances.

“We’re going to have people throughout the grounds dressed in traditional Greek clothing,” Lafter said. “There will be people in togas and ancient Greece warriors.”

Lafter said organizers have scaled down food options, eliminating grills that produced souvlaki (a kabob).

“(The grills) took up a lot of space and wasn’t one of the top items,” Lafter said. “It’s on hold. If there is a lot of demand for it, maybe we’ll bring it back next year. We still have the favorites and we’ve added chicken gyros this year. We’ve also added roasted lamb as a dish.”

In addition, there will be pastries, wine and craft beer.

Approximately 450 volunteers help put on the festival. Many volunteers have already been hard at work making pastries

As president and a member of the steering committee, Lafter is in charge of logistics.

“My team figures out what tents we need and working with equipment rental,” he said.

Other steering committee members supervise marketing, food and treasury.

Tours of the church will be offered.

“The interior is complete. Through the years it’s been at different phases of completion,” Lafter said. “There is insight into what everything means (inside the church).”

Festival proceeds go to the church for various missions, Lafter said.

Lafter estimates the average attendance for the three-day festival is 12,000 to 15,000.

If you go

Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Aug. 23, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 24 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 25.

Music: George Karras, a founding member of The Greek Tycoons, will perform Greek music.

Cost: Admission is free. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Parking on the grounds is $5. Free parking and shuttle are available at Kroger, just north of the intersection of 106th Street and Michigan Road.

More: Visit indygreekfest.org.

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