Holy Trinity Church Hosts 87th Annual Greek Festival: Food, Tours and More!
Please consider donating to the FāVS Fund for Social Justice Reporting
News Story by Nina Culver | FāVS News
Greek food, pastries and music are on the menu for the upcoming 87th Annual Greek Festival hosted by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, but those interested will also have the opportunity to learn about the history of the building and congregation that has been meeting since the 1920s.
The Rev. Daniel Triant will host regular church tours during the event, which will run from Sept. 28 to 30. The tours will be hosted at 12:30, 4 and 6 p.m. on Sept. 28 and 29 and at 12:30, 4 and 5 p.m. on Sept. 30. The final tour on Saturday, Sept. 30, will be followed by a Vespers service that everyone is welcome to attend.
“There’s lots to see,” Triant said.
How the Church Began
An informal group of Greek immigrants began gathering in the early 1920s.
“It wasn’t a church yet,” Triant said. “It was just a loose connection.”
But soon a priest began to visit, and then a priest came to town. The first building, now the church hall, was built in 1932. The current sanctuary was built in 1948. The worship space is filled with icons, depictions of religious figures and saints painted onto wood.
“The technical word we use is that we write an icon,” he said.
There are certain rules about how the saints and religious figures are depicted. For example, Mary is always shown holding Jesus, and Jesus is always depicted wearing a red cloak with blue partially covering it. A common misunderstanding is that church members worship the icons, but they do not, Triant said.
“They’re there to teach us,” he said. “They’re there to help us focus our worship.”
Icons were common in a day and age when there were few printed Bibles and even fewer people knew how to read, Triant said. The icons were a way to help tell a story.
What’s unusual for a Greek Orthodox Church is that Holy Trinity also has multiple tall stained-glass windows lining the sanctuary. They mostly depict the important moments from Christ’s life, including his birth in the stable and his death on the cross.
“It’s not typical that you see stained glass windows with the icons,” he said.
What to Expect at this Year’s Festival
The Greek Festival started as a simple dinner many years ago, but has long since expanded to give people a taste of Greek food and culture. Regular attendees will notice changes that followed the COVID-19 pandemic, including the loss of the sit-down dinner in the church basement. The church simply doesn’t have enough volunteers for the staffing required to constantly clean tables to make room for new diners, Triant said.
“We realized the dinner we used to do downstairs wasn’t feasible anymore,” he said. “We needed a lot of manpower.”
This is the second year the festival will serve a la carte food items instead of the traditional dinner of beef kapama and orzo with mizithra cheese. The price of many items, particularly the beef, has risen sharply and Triant said the church would have had to charge too much money to keep the old menu.
Instead, people will find gyros, salads, Greek sausage and spanakopita, a spinach pie. Multiple requests for more vegetarian options has led to the addition of a vegetarian gyro with garbanzo beans to the menu. The beer garden will be back this year, as will the Greek dancers.
Pastries Go Quickly!
Many people who come to the Greek festival, however, are there for the pastries. The baklava is the star of the show, but there will also be Kourambiethes (powdered sugar covered butter cookies), Koulourakia (twisted butter cookies) and Melomakarona (honey drenched spiced cookies with walnuts).
Church members made double the amount of baklava last year in an effort to avoid running out. It nearly worked, with the supply lasting until Saturday afternoon instead of being gone by Saturday morning. “We’re making more now than we ever have before,” he said.
Everything is handmade by church members in the weeks leading up to the festival. On a recent day, multiple tall rolling carts full of pastries lined the church hall after being packaged by volunteers. Triant said he recommends not waiting until the last minute to purchase pastries.
“You’ve got to come early if you want to be sure,” he said.
The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 28 to 20 at the church, located at 1703 N. Washington St. Entrees will be priced between $10 and $12 and sides will be priced around $4 to $5. Tickets are not required.
Nina Culver is a freelance journalist and North Idaho native who has called Spokane home for the last 30 years. She started working at The Spokesman-Review in 1995 as a work study intern while still a journalism student at Gonzaga University and stuck around for the next 22 years, covering everything from religion to crime. She has an adult daughter and two grandsons who keep her hopping and if she has any free time she likes to read.