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The Greek Food Festival, which is organized by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is an annual three-day event that raises money for the church and for charities around Arkansas. In 2008, approximately 30,000 people attended to enjoy the food and entertainment.
The Annunciation Greek Orthodox church was founded in 1913 and, a few years later, received an official church charter. By 1921, the members had their first building, at 15th and Center streets. For more than thirty years before they began the Greek Food Festival, members had a church pastry sale offering Greek food. The church moved to Napa Valley Drive in 1983 and began the first official Greek Food Festival that June. The one-day event was still mostly a food sale, and the only performers for several years were the Greek Kefi dancers. In the early years, the festival attracted fewer than 2,000 people. In 1987, there were 5,000 attendees, a record at the time, due in part to the church’s advertising on billboards. The festival was also moved to the middle of May, the weekend before Memorial Day, when the weather is generally more pleasant. The festival begins on a Friday and lasts until Sunday evening. Hundreds of volunteers are involved each year, many of whom are not members of the church.
The Greek Food Festival is often called the International Greek Food Festival because so many different cultures are represented in the food and performances. The food includes Greek and Middle Eastern fare, but the most diversity is in the entertainment, which ranges from Irish, Middle Eastern, and Mexican dancers to classical guitar and country music. There are always many Greek performers, such as the Greek American Folk Dance society, the Micro Greek Dancers, and LAAND Greek-American Live Entertainment.
Many charities have benefited from the proceeds of the festival. In 2008, seven charities received money: CareLink, Love Truth Care ministries, Easter Seals Arkansas, Arkansas Health Care Access Foundation Inc., Community Collections, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Family Home, and the Centers for Youth and Families. Over the years, proceeds have gone to such organizations as Alzheimer’s Arkansas, the American Diabetes Association, Heifer International, the United Way, and Youth Home, among others.
For additional information:Cox, Dorothy. “Family Unity Keeps Greek Fest Going.” Arkansas Gazette. June 15, 1990, p. 1B.
———. “Greek Kitchen Heats up in Hope of Record Crowd at Food Festival.” Arkansas Gazette. June 10, 1988, pp. 1B, 4B.
Greek Food Festival. http://www.greekfoodfest.com/ (accessed May 5, 2008).
Pierce, Susan. “Greek Food Festival Offers Exotic Eating.” Arkansas Democrat. Weekend section. June 15, 1990, p. 1.
Werner, Erica. “14th Food Festival Offers a Little Touch of Greece.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. May 17, 1998, p. 1B.
Anastasia TeskeNorth Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 12/22/2008
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