By Kristin Kunz
It is another story of reality imitating movies, or is it the other way around? One thing is certain; the women were behind the success of the 27th annual Greek Festival, held in Salt Lake City Friday, Sept. 5, through Sunday, Sept. 7.
Madelyn Bowden”s parents were born in Greece. She was very eager to discuss her Greek heritage and how she has contributed to the Greek Festival held annually at the Hellenic Memorial Cultural Center in Salt Lake City. “We have been doing it for about 28 years,” Bowden said. The festival first started as a Bazaar in 1977.
Bowden belongs to the Women”s organization for the Greek Orthodox Church called Philoptochos meaning “friend to the poor.” This organization of women work wherever they are needed, making all of the food for the festival year after year. According to Bowden, this group is comparable to the Relief Society for the LDS church, “we still keep our Greek culture and our Orthodox faith.”
“All of the pastries are made by the women,” Bowden said. There were at least thirteen different pastries appearing on the menu at this year”s festival. Among them included the infamous Baklava, a delectable dessert containing almonds and walnuts drowning in buttery syrup. This dessert should never be refrigerated, explained Bowden.
Barbara Kalantzes has worked for the festival since it began. She gave tours through the church when the festival first started. This year, Kalantzes worked at the pastry counter. On the women working for the festival, Kalantzes stated, “They cook and bake all summer long.”
Bowden explained that one woman made all of the costumes worn by the Greek Orthodox Youth of America Dancers. The dances represented all of the different islands and regions of Greece.
Other festivities included choir performances by the Men”s Byzantine Choir, a live trio, and continuous music provided by the Chris Dokos band. A small fair ground with rides was set up and many enjoyed looking at the museum located on the lower level of the cathedral.
All of the proceeds collected by serving over 40,000 people at the festival are donated back into the community supporting charities including the Alliance House, the Utah Food Bank, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, and several others.
To all of the women who worked to help this year”s Greek Festival to be such a success, “Efkharisto”!