[y] Cincinnati Greek Festival
The Cincinnati Greek Festival or Panegyri is without a doubt one of our absolute favorites. Apparently about 100,000 fellow Cincinnatians agree as this festival, located in the Finneytown area of Cincinnati, draw that many and more with each passing year.
The Panegyri Greek Festival began in 1974. It takes place on the grounds of the Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Ohio’s oldest parish and one of Cincinnati’s most beautiful churches. Parking is available at St. Xavier High School (known locally as St. X) where a shuttle bus will take you to the festival.
Upon arrival at the festival, we usually eat!
The food is authentic and amazing. After all, church parishioners use recipes that have been in their generation for years. In fact, cooking classes are also offered at the festival complete with tasty samples. Our family usually orders one of the express meals (available outside).
You can choose from five different entrees (mousaka, souvlaki, greek chicken, leg of lamb, or pastichio); each includes the following sides: rice pilaf, Greek-style green beans, Greek salad, and bread. A great monetary value at approximately $11.
Ala carte options such as gyros and Greek pizza are available as well. There’s even Skyline Chili for the less adventurous.
This is the Greek salad and bread that comes along with the Mousaka Meal (and the other Express Meals). That’s a lot of food for the price. And, the best part is that it’s really good! There are continual shows that consist of traditional Greek dances on the stage outside which are enjoyed while dining and as we walk around outside visiting the various booths. Sometimes we buy herbs or devour a few honey puffs. Or, if feeling really adventurous we take a dance class.
Heading inside to let our food settle a little — before dessert, we take a tour of the church. Here Sarah is lighting a candle, typically done as you enter the church in the Greek Orthodox tradition. Lighting the candle is personal prayer time. The belief is that the candle represents the prayers being offered.
The church tour is led by actual church members who are very knowledgeable about the church’s history as well as the Orthodox religion. The church tour is excellent and well worth your time to do.
Afterward, we head to the main hall for a little shopping and a stop at the cafe to enjoy a Koulourakia (butter cookie), Baklava (we love the chocolate ones), or Galaktobouriko (custard and filo yumminess). And, as already mentioned we always take part in every cooking class offered.
As stated before, the Cincinnati Greek Festival or Panegyri is on our “to do every year” list. If you have never gone, you must! You won’t regret it!