16,000 drawn to 37th annual Greekfest
By Ashley Sloboda | The Journal Gazette
It didn't take much fancy footwork Sunday to turn untrained Greekfest attendees into Greek dancers.
Those just seeking a selfie as a Greek dancer could do so with the festival's “face in the hole” photo board, which allowed people to pose as a pair of dancers.
Those willing to join the Triada Dancers only had a handful of steps to remember and repeat. Soon, the dance floor at Headwaters Park was filled with a chain of dancers, a few carrying small children.
Afterward, Triada member Kaleena Skembos and her sisters – also dancers – gathered around their mother, the troupe's director.
“I live to Greek dance,” the 20-year-old said.
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church presented the four-day festival, which ended its 37th run Sunday.
Rosie Felix of Fort Wayne arrived at the festival in its final hours and browsed the merchandise, which included souvenirs, clothing, jewelry and artwork. She tried on a Greek goddess headband, noting this was her first time at the festival.
“I'm just curious,” she said of why she came.
Although undecided about the hair accessory, Felix said she wanted to try some of the food.
Choices included gyros, a popular sandwich of lamb and beef; pastichio, a Greek lasagna made with macaroni and ground beef; mousaka, a dish made of ground beef, eggplant and potato slices; and baklava, a pastry.
Just as the Triada Dancers, who are children from the church, spent months rehearsing, church members began preparations for some menu items months in advance, said Drew Swift, a festival committee member and Holy Trinity board president.
For Swift, the event –which attracted upwards of 16,000 people – is a family affair. He and his wife volunteer, he said, and his sons – incoming first- and fourth-graders – participate in the dance troupe.
Dancers performed Sunday in one of four groups that ranged in age from four years old to college age, director Stella Skembos said.
The choreography featured authentic steps regardless of the type of music, traditional or modern, she said.
“The kids really love it,” she said.
But more than that, she said, they are carrying on Greek tradition.
And so were audience members. During one performance, one man approached the dancers and tossed money toward them. That, Skembos said, is a way of saying “good job,” and “congratulations on a good show.”