Glendi Festival puts the food first
Carol Dionis, serves food, on Friday, during the annual Glendi Greek Festival, held at Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, in Manchester this weekend. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
A man who likes to stay busy, the executive director of New Horizons for New Hampshire last night wore many hats — greeter of guests at the annual Glendi festival, ambassador for the city's less fortunate, and — at least for one night — a temporary title.
“I'm chief dessert taster,” said Sherman.
Last night was opening night for the 33rd annual Glendi Festival at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Manchester, and the line of patrons looking to celebrate all things Greek stretched along a walkway and on to Hanover Street shortly after 5 p.m. Festival organizers hope the crowds continue to line up throughout the weekend.
“We've had a lot of traffic already, and we expect the crowds to continue through the weekend,” said George N. Copadis, president of the St. George board of directors and an organizer of the festival. “Each year people come and bring new folks, and everyone enjoys the food, and the music, and the fun that they come again and again and again.”
It's safe to say that over the past 32 years, no attendees of the Glendi festival have left hungry. This year, thanks to a partnership with New Horizons of New Hampshire, festival attendees can help make sure the city's poor won't either.
St. George Church and festival organizers have agreed to donations up to $5,000 to benefit the New Horizons Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen, which provides more than 200 meals to families and individuals. Each month more than 1,000 Manchester families and residents visit the organization's food pantry to pick up groceries.
“So far so good for the donations,” said Sherman last night. “We got off to a bit of a slow start, but it's been good. As the crowds continue to grow, I think we'll meet our goal of $5,000.”
The festival may be this weekend, but preparations began months ago.
“We started cooking for this back in June,” said Carol Dionis, volunteer treasurer for the Anagennesis Ladies Society of St. George's Church, which does most of the cooking for Glendi weekend. “We made 4,500 grape leaves, 166 pans of spanakopita - industrial size sheet pans, 5,000 meatballs...it's a lot of work, but we have a great time doing it.”
Dionis was also busy cooking last night, putting on live demonstrations where she prepared spanakopita.
“You get a little nervous,” said Dionis. “You want to do a good job. For me, I'm a non-Greek. I converted to orthodoxy the night before my wedding. I'm a little nervous getting up in front of everybody, but I'm confident in the recipe.”
Colleen Loughlin of Manchester had a front row seat for the demo.
“I thought she did great,” said Loughlin. “I'm not sure I could do it, but she was great. They're delicious, too.”
Organizers are expecting about 30,000 to 35,000 people to attend the three-day event, which features music, fun and — without a doubt — an abundance of food.
The menu features Greek cuisine, ranging from lamb shank for dinner to baklava for dessert, while American fare (such as hamburgers and hot dogs) is also available for the less-adventurous eaters.
Festivities include bouncy houses for kids and the return of the Sons and Daughters of Alexander the Great dance group, which will perform today from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
DJ Meleti will spin tunes today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Kostas Taslis and his Orchestra are scheduled to perform from 6 to 10 p.m. tonight.
Tours of the church, located at 650 Hanover St., will be offered between 4:30 and 7 p.m. today and between 1 and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is free and a free shuttle service will also be provided from the McDonough School parking lot.
Glendi hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. A menu of the food, along with prices, can be found at saintgeorgeglendi.com.
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