The Grecian Festival 2009 in Albuquerque

While the first weekend in October may be the start of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, it’s also the weekend of the Grecian Festival.  We were able to go for the first time on Saturday evening.

It’s held at St. George Greek Orthodox Church at 308 High Street SE in Albuquerque.  I think we arrived at just the right time–between a busy afternoon and the evening rush.  The line to get in seemed fairly long (about 20 people at the time) but it moved quickly.

While standing in line, Steve noticed the shirts that some of the workers were wearing.  You can guess what the front says.  The back is obviously a reference to the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding and says in Greek, “put some Windex on it.”  If you haven’t seen that movie, you should.  It’s really fun and gives some insight into Greek Americans.

The first thing we did was look inside the church, which was open to the public.  What a beautiful place!  They had a number of incredible mosaics on the walls and a spectacular altar area.

The focal point of this festival is the food–holy cow!  I think they’re doing it right.  You don’t purchase the food directly but buy tickets, then they tell you how many tickets each item takes.  It’s sort of like the state fair where you buy tickets for the rides, and the rides take different numbers of tickets.  All of the classic Greek foods were there–souvlaki, spanakopita, gyros, rice pilaf, those wonderful potato wedges with the Greek spices, Greek salad, and some others I’ve never heard of.  Drinks could be picked up at the exit of the food area, and the cashiers took the appropriate numbers of tickets for what you picked up.  It’s a good system, since it keeps the food servers from having to handle the tickets or money.  The lines moved fairly quickly.  They were out of some of the food items at the time, and one server said people were coming in quicker than they could restock the big pans of food.  Good for them!  I’m happy that so many people came to their festival.

The church grounds are larger than I expected, and there were a lot more people than I anticipated, but everyone seemed to be having a good time.  As I said, this was all about the food, and they had plenty of tables and chairs everywhere.

In the parish hall were items for sale, like paintings, specialty Greek food items that you can’t find in the grocery store, a raffle, and–best of all–the pastry items in the corner.  We bought extra tickets so we could take home a box of baklava.

At the rear of the church was the main tent, again filled with lots of tables and chairs, some stadium bleachers, and a very large dance floor and stage.  They mixed up the dancing, periodically having dancers in Greek costumes doing various demonstration dances, then calling “everybody dance!”  I was watching some of the fancy footwork, which they could do quite well but looked very complex to me.  Given enough ouzo, I might have attempted some dancing, but this was a non-alcoholic event.

Even our mayor, who is running for re-election, showed up to make an appearance.  I thought he might have scored more popularity points if he had gone out on the dance floor and at least attempted one of the line dances.

Before leaving, we had someone take our picture in the obligatory cut-out board.  During the Grecian Festival, everyone gets to be Greek!