SIOUX CITY -- Volunteers at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church's annual Greek Fest, held this year in a drive-thru format, said they were pleasantly surprised by how many people still turned out to purchase traditional Greek delicacies.
"From day one, we had lines all the way down the street, which was awesome," said Greek Fest volunteer Chris Margellos.
Fellow volunteer Fotene Karantinos estimated roughly 1,000 people came for the food during Saturday and Sunday. The line Sunday afternoon was long but fast-moving, with volunteers efficiently hurrying orders to cars.
It was really more of a "mini" Greek Fest, in the words of the volunteers. There were no dancers or music or booths, nor traditional Greek beverages, but the food -- probably the most popular element of the festival -- was still there.
"Traditionally everybody loves our Greek food, you know there's a buzz about it, every year," Margellos said.
Normally Greek Fest -- a major fundraiser for the small Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church -- is held during the last weekend in July. This year's Greek Fest is being held over a series of four weekends in June, July, August and October.
Sizable crowds are drawn to Greek Fest most summers, which under normal circumstances is a good thing. But not during a pandemic.
Other major cultural and recreation events in the area that tend to draw people, including the Sioux City Explorers' baseball season, the Woodbury County Fair and the Saturday in the Park music festival, have either been postponed or canceled outright because of the virus.
"We knew we wouldn't have a Greek Festival like normal, we kept on pushing the date, and then we said, you know what, why don't we just make it where people can stay in their cars, we can wear masks and gloves," Karantinos said.
The array of dishes has been pared back, because it was impractical to offer so many dishes with a limited number of volunteers rushing orders to vehicles. A smaller rotation of popular foods will be available during this year's Greek Fest weekends, with different foods offered during different weekends.
Gyro and spanakopita (a sort of spinach pastry) were on the menu this weekend. July's menu will include lamb chops, stuffed grape leaves called "dolmathes" and assorted Greek pastries.
"It's still a lot of work. A lot of preparation goes into making some of the side dishes, the pastries, the salads," Margellos said.
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