Photos and story by Erin Morris / Contributing Writer
The Nashville Greek Festival returns, but this year it’s bigger and better. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Franklin Pike hosts the festival each year. It kicks off on Sept. 7 and ends on Sunday, Sept. 9. On Friday and Saturday, the event kicks off at 10 a.m. and concludes at 9 p.m, and the festival will open at 11 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The three-day event is filled with vendors, food, fellowship and family. What exactly is the best part? Well, it depends on who and when you ask.
“Definitely food,” said Taylor Mavericks, a 17-year-old from Nashville. “Greek food is my personal favorite.”
The festival menu includes some of Greece’s staples like dolmades, pastichio, baklava and classic gyros. According to Jim Gaddis, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Parish Council president, the volunteers spend eight to 10 weeks prepping the food beforehand.
“It’s truly amazing what these folks do for our church,” Gaddis said. “I am so proud of everyone here today.”
Another attendee of the event said shopping made it feel like she was actually in Greece.
“Seeing all the handmade items puts it into perspective for me,” said Jane Roberson, a festival patron from Alabama. “My family and I travel over an hour to get a piece of Greece here in Music City.”
Roberson and her family attended the past three festivals, and they keep coming back for more.
“We just can’t get enough,” Roberson said. “You can’t just buy these items anywhere. It’s special.”
In addition to great food and local vendors, the festival is also known for its traditional Greek music. This the first year with a three-man band known as Lazaros with Lee Nourtsis, John Rokas and Nick Vidas. Noursis plays the bouzouki, a popular Greek instrument. He is also on vocals. Rokas plays the keys, and Vidas is on guitar.
“The band has been together for 12 to 14 years, give or take,” Nourtsis said. “Nick and I have over 20 years of playing together.”
According to Nourtsis, the band tries to take gigs close to home, but every now and again they will venture out together to festivals hours away from their homes in Ohio.
“We all have regular jobs, but we do this because we have fun,” Vidas said.
Traditional Greek music, tasty food and vendors all add up to a great time. What sets this festival aside from many others is the learning experience. The church allowed the public to tour their facility. Helen Rogers, a church member, helped visitors understand the history behind the Greek Orthodox Church.
“This is such a dynamic parish,” Rogers said, noting that a large group of the parish are actually converts. “We want people to learn about the history behind the church and understand it.”
It’s like a huge puzzle with all the pieces waiting to be placed. According to Rogers, the church is built in the shape of a cross. Not only that, the architectural design is laid out like a ship because the Greek Orthodox believe that a ship will transport people from Earth to heaven.
“We use visuals like the iconography that covers the walls and incense,” Rogers said. “Our religion invokes all of your senses.”
Young or old, this festival is for you. There is a kid’s area filled with games and activities like a petting zoo, face painting, bounce houses and so much more. Admission for the festival is $3, including readmission for the entire weekend, and free admission is offered for children 12 and younger and all military, police and fire personnel (with ID)
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