Greek Festival Greets New Britain


Photographed by Melody Rivera

St. George Church member prepares lamb for the lamb shank dinner for the Greek Festival.

Melody Rivera, Social Media Editor

NEW BRITAIN- St. George Greek Orthodox Church on West Main St. uniquely hosted its annual Greek Festival on Friday, Oct. 22, and Saturday, Oct. 23, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Due to COVID-19, the festival was held as a drive-thru to have fewer people inside the building and limit physical contact with others. Visitors had to order food online from the church’s website or call the church ahead of time and schedule the date and time they would be able to pick up their meals. Everyone who participated in the festival this year had the option to get their orders delivered to them while in their cars or go inside to pick them up themselves. The menu of the event included several classic Greek dishes and desserts such as gyro (a wrap that contains meat, tomatoes and onions), pastitsio (baked pasta), baklava (a layered pastry made with filo, chopped nuts, and syrup), and rice pudding.

“Pastitsio is like Greek Lasagna,” the Rev. Spyridon Chatzis said.

Chatzis joined St. George Church in September of this year and said he was ecstatic to run the Greek Festival despite the changes made because of the pandemic.

“Due to COVID, we have a drive-thru. We’re trying our best to share our culture with our food and music,” he said.

Stephen Polezonis, a member of St. George Church, talked about what the festival would typically be like in a world where COVID-19 was not a considerable threat.

“We wanted to have a festival to feature not only the food but vendors of Greek items like jewelry,” Polezonis said. “The festival featured tours of the church, Greek music, and dancing.”

A Greek Festival is a special event for the members of St. George Church because of the significance of the church’s history. In 1951, immigrants came to the city from Greece to have their own place of worship and share their culture. This led to the foundation of the church’s community center in 1982 and the creation of their annual festival, which allows the members to share their Greek culture with the New Britain community. Although there are many core aspects of the Greek Festival, St. George Church members were aware of the one factor that had to be included in this COVID-cautious event: the food.

“Probably the thing people look forward to the most is the food,” Polezonis said.

With this in mind, members of the church worked together to cook, prepare, and serve up their cuisine in Styrofoam containers. Niki Nasiakos, one of the chefs at the festival, talked about two essential ingredients used in many Greek dishes, such as the roasted chicken dinner.

“Greeks like to cook with a lot of oregano and lemon,” Nasiakos said. “If we don’t have it, it’s not Greek!”

The Greek Festival had many restrictions and limitations this year, but regardless, Nasiakos said the food came out good, and she, along with Polezonis, said they are hopeful about the future of the festival to be back to normal by May 2022.

“We’re proud and happy to be a part of the New Britain community and look forward to many more years of featuring our Greek food and culture,” Polezonis said.