On Saturday I traveled from one end of town to the other, and, festival wise, from one end of the world to the other. Well, metaphorically, anyway. In the literal sense I went about six miles, and Greece and Spain aren't really that far apart, but it sounded so much more exciting phrased the first way, right?
I started out Saturday by heading to St. George's Greek Orthodox Church for Greek Fest:
I drive past the church every day, so every year I see the signs for Greek Fest go up and then come down, and everyone in the office always raves about how fun it is. They also all mention how expensive it is, so I was rather surprised to find out that the parking was free and admission was only two dollars. Then I got there on Saturday and found out why: all there is to do at Greek Fest is tour the church, watch some dancing, and buy things.
Mostly you buy food:
It's good food, and almost every booth had a little sign explaining what the food was for people not familiar with the cuisine, but it was on the expensive side. This tray of partries, for example:
set me back about six dollars, and two dollars a cookie at a church festival seems a little steep to me. The baklava was delicious, though:
even if I did have to eat it beneath the unsettling gaze of a one-eyed centerpiece:
While eating, we got to watch a cooking demo by the guy who owns the Pizza Palace, a restaurant downtown that was featured on the Food Network a few years ago and that, somehow, I still have not managed to visit:
He taught us how to make garlic and oregano pork tenderloin, a Greek salad, and a pasta side dish with Feta cheese and brown butter sauce that I made for dinner tonight. It was really good, and super easy. There was also the added amusement of watching someone root around under the counters during the setup without realizing that a room of hundreds was watching her crawl around on the big screen TV:
That giggling, alone, was worth the two dollars of admission.
As underwhelmed as I was by the festival (why not just honestly advertise under a "Come Buy Some Greek Food and Copyright Violating Nesting Dolls
Festival"?), I was almost awed by the Church. I grew up Catholic, but we mostly went to modern, less than a few decades old Catholic churches on Army bases. Maybe if I'd gone to a church with better windows and more shiny things like this one I'd be more religious, but now we'll never know. And you wouldn't know it was so impressive from outside, either, where it looks rather plain:
The same window on the inside is beautiful:
(I'm not really familiar with the scene depicted on that window, but if I had to guess just by looking at it I'd say it was from the time that Jesus was a rock star and surfed down a mountain and over some prisoners on his cross while the crowd shook his hands. I'm pretty sure that story's in the New Testament somewhere, right?)
Anyway, the inside of the church had a lot of nice windows:
a fancy altar:
with a lot of inlaid tile mosaics:
and the most impressive feature of all, a mosaic that covered the entire inside of the church dome:
Not only was the church impressive, but it remained shockingly lightning-free even though I walked through it, and as an added bonus I can tell my mom I went to (a) church this weekend. Everybody comes up a winner, I guess.
After I toured the church I wasn't still hungry, so I left Greek Fest and drove downtown for the HoLa Festival, which celebrates Hispanic countries. It was spread all through Market Square, and as soon as I walked up from the parking lot I immediately ran into a lady from the zoo, who was educating us about barn owls:
I'm not really sure how either of those things tie into the theme of the day, but I like the zoo, so I just shrugged and moved on.
There were a lot of booths selling food and cultural items, and some things that were a mixture of both:
I also got there just in time for the parade of nations, during which representatives wore traditional costumes and in many cases performed a traditional dance. This was both educational and entertaining. I learned that Chile also includes Polynesian islands:
and that Honduras apparently has a lot of cowboys:
The costumes were all very nice, though, and the dancing was fun to watch.
There were a lot of kids in the parade, too and they looked very cute in their little costumes. I thought this one was adorable:
She was trying so hard to be serious and precise, and didn't smile the whole time. It was awesome.
After the parade, a local dance troupe that one of my coworkers is part of performed and gave a salsa lesson:
It was really hard to get good pictures of them, since they were moving so fast, so for the first time ever I took video with my camera:
They did a fantastic job, and it was a nice way to cap off the day.