Opa! The 38th annual greekfest continues to bring greek tradition to Knoxville

According to Tracy Jones from KnoxTNToday.com, up to fifteen thousand people were expected to attend the 38th annual GREEKfest. I was intrigued to see what makes this festival unique and popular. I attended day 2 of the event (Sept. 16)

Located at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church, the event was broken up into two sections; the Greek marketplace located inside the church, and the food court outside in the plaka.
Outside in the plaka, trays were handed out to help customers carry their purchased foods to the dining hall. Since the vendors only accepted cash, an ATM was located in the middle of the plaka.

In the plaka, people lined up behind each food vendor in order to try out different Greek cuisine. According to the vendors, they try to host the event during an away game at UT in order to have enough space/food for the attendees. I stopped by vendors with the longest lines to sample the most popular food.

Food trucks such as the one pictured above were stationed behind every vendor to ensure that they had enough food to feed every customer.

"Baklava Sundaes is a vanilla ice cream topped with shredded baklava and syrup, with whipped cream and of course a cherry". -Vendor posted description

The first food I purchased was a baklava sundae; the shredded baklava tasted similar to the frosted flakes cereal. Since the event was scorching hot due to the amount of people and the meals being cooked, a nice, frozen treat was very appealing.

Souvlaki is a marinated grilled pork tenderloin flavored with lemon and herbs and served on a pita bread with tzatsiki sauce. The line for souvlaki was the longest at the festival, as it was the best value appetizer available. I decided to get souvlaki on a stick for $5; it was very filling for a light snack.
Saganaki is a Greek kasseri cheese, flamed with brandy, served on crusty bread with a squeeze of lemon. Dolmades, a grape leaf stuffed with season/spiced rice, was also served on the side.
A vendor prepared the Saganaki by using a flambe technique.

I struck up a conversation with an attendee in line who told me that, "There's a lot of variety here, so what I'd like to do every year is to walk around outside and try out all the different foods they offer. This is the only place I know to try out Greek cuisine."

During the event, the community youth dancers were performing in the middle of the plaka. The dance was accompanied by music and singing.

The community youth dancers were easily distinguishable with their elegant attire.
After all the dancers finished their performance, the children from the crowd were also encouraged to participate as well.

After seeing everything that the plaka had to offer, I decided to check the marketplace inside the church. The marketplace had a mini cafeteria and a souvenir store.

Just like outside, many people were lined up in front of these stores to try out different foods and accessories.
One corner of the marketplace featured exotic looking clothing and bracelets, such as the one seen above.

I strolled around the marketplace to see what kinds of products were on sale. I was amazed at the craftsmanship of the featured items.

Small pottery hand painted in Greece were on display.
Incense such as the ones displayed here filled the entire marketplace with their sweet aroma.
Beautifully crafted decorative plates were also on sale at the marketplace.
The item that caught my attention were the handmade soaps made at the Orthodox Monastery. Each bar sold had a unique smell to them.

So why do thousands of people come to Greekfest every year? From what I gathered, Greekfest is the only place Knoxvillians can try out unique Greek food and shop for exclusive items. Another factor is that the festival is only held once per year. I will definitely be looking forward to participating in Greekfest next year and am excited to see what new experiences the festival can bring to the table.

Created By
Yuya Takusagawa

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