2017-06-15 / On the Town

Greece is the word at annual fest

Event features food, music, dance
By Alicia Doyle
Special to the Acorn


TINY DANCERS—Members of the Thavmatakia, or Little Miracles, perform a traditional Greek dance at a previous Ventura County Greek Festival. This year’s event will be June 23 to 25 in Camarillo. 
ACORN FILE PHOTO TINY DANCERS—Members of the Thavmatakia, or Little Miracles, perform a traditional Greek dance at a previous Ventura County Greek Festival. This year’s event will be June 23 to 25 in Camarillo. ACORN FILE PHOTO Volunteers are in the process of baking 3,000 pieces of baklava, 800 pasta floras and hundreds of other Greek treats for the 39th annual Ventura County Greek Festival.

Authentic Greek cuisine is one of the major draws at this yearly event, which is put on by St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Camarillo.

“The festival is the premier Hellenic event in Ventura County,” said the Rev. Gary Kyriacou of Camarillo. “This event includes music by The Olympians, Greek dancing to watch and participate in, and best of all, authentic, homemade Greek food.”

This year’s three-day festival will take place Fri. through Sun., June 23 to 25 at Camarillo Freedom Park at the Camarillo Airport.

GOOEY GOODNESS—Scott McBryde prepares flaming cheese— known as saganaki—at 2016’s Ventura County Greek Festival. The delicacy is back this year, along with gyros and baklava. ACORN FILE PHOTO GOOEY GOODNESS—Scott McBryde prepares flaming cheese— known as saganaki—at 2016’s Ventura County Greek Festival. The delicacy is back this year, along with gyros and baklava. ACORN FILE PHOTO Gyros, Greek pork skewers and appetizers will be for sale, as well as chicken, roasted lamb, grilled octopus and baklava sundaes.

“Deep-fried calamari, Greek sausages and flaming cheese plates are all made right before your eyes,” Kyriacou said. “With the much-loved Greek pastries and soft-serve ice cream for dessert, there is something for everyone.”

Activities for children will include jumpers, slides, and arts and crafts. There will also be a vendor section with about 25 merchants.

Live entertainment will be performed by three dance groups from the church, as well as dancers from the Greek at the Harbor Mediterranean Grill.

“This is the closest you will get to Greece without having to get on a plane,” Kyriacou said.

A new offering this year involves a makeshift chapel that will be set up on site. Some families are planning to be baptized there during the festival, and guests will be welcome to watch.

Festival proceeds will help pay for construction costs at St. Demetrios.

“We have a mortgage that we have to pay off; we’re also building a patio so we can hopefully have the festival on our church site in the future,” said organizer George Joannou. “We want to finalize the mortgage and complete the patio, and funds raised . . . will help tremendously.”

The event would not be possible without volunteers.

“The age of the volunteers ranges from 6 to 90-plus,” he said. “This is really the best aspect of the festival from my standpoint. I get to watch so many people come together as we roll up our sleeves and prepare to serve our neighbors. It is a great time.”

Joannou said he associates the nature of the festival with the Greek word philoxenia, which means love of strangers and hospitality.

“Showing hospitality to friends and strangers is the theme of our festival every year,” he said. “The most important thing is to have fun and share our culture with the community.”

For more information, visit vcgreekfestival.org.

Return to top