St. Haralambos feeds off of excitement of Big Greek Food Fest revelers in Niles
Sophia Karabatsos, of Chicago, holds a tray of gyros for her family at the St. Haralambos Greek Food Fest on July 21 evening in Niles. Karabatsos said she and her family make the drive up every year from their Midway neighborhood to attend the festival. |
Updated: September 24, 2012 1:30AM
NILES — Volunteers worked hard as they do each year to make the past weekend’s Big Greek Food Fest of Niles even bigger and better than the year before.
Last year about 17,000 people attended the popular festival, which returned July 20-22 at Saint Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, 7373 Caldwell Ave.
The event is a long-standing tradition in Niles that features authentic Greek food made by volunteers.
Guests enjoyed homemade shish kabobs, moussaka, pastitso, spinach pie, Greek pastries, wine and more. There was also live Greek music, and Greek dancers entertained crowds each night of the festival.
Volunteers of all ages came together to make about 10,000 pork-shish-kabob skewers and all of the food featured at the festival, which is the largest fundraiser for Saint Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church.
“The money that we make helps the church the rest of the year,” said Elini Lanzourakis, public-relations chairman for the festival.
Lanzourakis said the church will be creating a new school and other facilities on property purchased next to the church. She said there is not yet a specific plan or project date.
“Hospitality is No. 1,” said Lanzourakis, adding that the event provides a friendly atmosphere where families can come and enjoy an authentic Greek dinner while their children are having fun in a family environment.
For the past five years the festival’s Kids Korner has been providing a secure area where parents can bring their children to play and enjoy face-painting, games, a balloon artist, crafts and more.
A lucky winner was slated to go home with either a new 2012 Chevrolet Camaro or a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle, or $20,000. There was also a second prize of $2,000, third prize of $1,000, fourth prize of $500 and fifth prize of $500.
For guests who really love what they eat at the fest, cooking demonstrations were on the itinerary, as well. There was also an area for shopping, a movie about Greece and guided tours of the church.
Lanzourakis said every year her goal is to have 5,000 more people attend the festival than the previous year.