85 Years Strong, Greek Fest Continues to Bring Communities Together
In 1935, when the U.S. was still in the throws of the Great Depression and war clouds were gathering, Spokane’s Greek Orthodox community came together to feed its city, and bring a little cheer.
This week will mark Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church’s 85th Annual Greek Food Festival. This would have been the 86th year, but the church canceled the 2020 program due to the pandemic.
The Rev. Daniel Triant, head priest at Holy Trinity, 1703 N. Washington St., said when Greek Americans came to the U.S. then they brought with them their faith and culture, and without a lot of money, found ways to unify the two.
“They did what they could to garner community,” he said. “This community (Spokane) was off the beaten path at its start but one of the the things it had to offer to themselves and the community at large was our Greek cooking and love of hospitality.”
Those are the ingredients, Triant said, that started the Greek Fest tradition and has kept it going for nearly nine decades.
Though there are no official documents, it’s believed to be the longest running Greek Festival in the country.
“When I think about 100 years ago and what the world was going through, I think about what my ancestor’s did – mine and my wife’s – and how they endured with faith and love,” he said.
Similarly, members of the Holy Trinity parish have endured pain, anguish and worry over the past 18 months.
Triant said while other churches have found a way to stay connected digitally, being together in person is essential to his congregation.
Greek Fest, he said, brings the church together in a much needed way.
“We spend a lot of hours with people and get to know them in a way you wouldn’t normally get to know them. You get to speak to people you wouldn’t normally get to talk to in fellowship hour on Sunday and that really is the beauty of it,” Triant said, “the intangibles.”
It’s also a way to serve the Spokane community.
When the event was canceled last year, members of the parish heard from Greek Fest fans, wanting to know when it would be back.
This year’s event will be a Covid-safe version of the traditional Greek Fest. A limited menu will be offered to-go from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A menu can be viewed on the church website.
In-person church tours will be held each day of the festival at 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. daily. Masks are required.
Guests are also welcome to stay for evening Vespers at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Like this story? Buy this reporter a coffee by making a donation today!
Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. She serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.