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Dancing, games, music back at Greek Fest

Restrictions relegated Headwaters festival to drive-thru last 2 years


Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published June 15, 2022

The 42nd annual Fort Wayne Greek Festival returns to a full outdoor gathering June 23-26 at Headwaters Park with nearly all of the things that has made it great. 

Beloved Tradition

Greek Fest has been one of Fort Wayne’s most beloved festivals over the years for many reasons. 

As one of the first festivals of the year, it is a signal that summer has arrived in The Fort. It celebrates time-honored traditions and Greek heritage and, of course, features terrific food. 

Sponsored by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, organizers had to adapt their model the last two years due to pandemic restrictions, opting for a drive-thru format that provided those traditional food favorites. Unfortunately, restrictions eliminated the rest of the celebrations. 

“It feels great,” Greek Fest chairman Frank Makridakis said about the return to a full format. “The drive-thru helped the church and the philanthropic activities that the church does, but it was just a business. There was no fun involved: no kids, no dancers, no games and no music, so it wasn’t quite the same festival.” 

Greek culture is filled with great history, as they are known for their philosophy, art and sculptures, literature, and mythology. But one of the greatest things about the Greeks is their love of food, which is why the festival remains as one of the most anticipated events each year. 

As things have gradually returned to “normal,” Makridakis expects this will be a record-breaking year for attendance. 

“I know a lot of people are itching to get back out there and forget about the pandemic for a while,” he said. “The pandemic is still with us, but luckily everything is manageable now. This is an outdoor event, too, which is better. The only downside this year is the parking.”

The problem he is alluding to involves apartments being built in the area that has caused the closing of the usual parking area behind Club Soda. There will be parking in other areas, Makridakis said, and shuttle buses will be running from the parking on 4th Street to help those that might not be mobile enough to walk the longer distances.

Dance and Delicious Food

Music and dancing helps to create a true family atmosphere. 

The Fort Wayne Holy Trinity Triada Dancers will perform and demonstrate traditional Greek dancing every day, while the Omega Dancers will perform Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Festival mainstays The Band Lazarus will perform Greek favorites every day, allowing attendees several opportunities to try their hand at dancing. 

“People are encouraged to join in and dance,” Makridakis said. “You don’t have to be Greek to meet. If you can dance in a circle, that’s all you need.”

While all of that sounds great, it always comes back to the food. Everyone knows the main reason we attend Greek Fest is to sample all of the delicious cuisine and pastries authentically made in the kitchen, and there will be plenty of it, Makridakis said, as gyros, souvlaki, moussaka, spanakopita, and Greek pizza are on the menu. 

Makridakis is also excited about a new food this year.

 “We won’t have octopus this year, unfortunately, but we will have delicious lamb shanks that take the place of the boneless leg of lamb,” he said. “Everything else is pretty much the same as past years” including plenty of delicious baklava which is always a crowd favorite.

Activities for All

There will be no shortage of things to do, as Headwaters Park provides plenty of spots for picnicking, reunions, and gatherings. 

A bar area will be available for adults, while special activities are planned in other parts of the pavilion for the kids. 

“You could literally come down in the morning, rotate around to see all these things, go out in the park, have a picnic, and come back and start it all over again,” Makridakis said.

Festivals like Greek Fest, Arab Fest, and Germanfest are important tools that can help introduce different cultures to the community, while attendees enjoy time with friends and family, Makridakis said. 

“It’s great for uniformity,” he said. “I’m a big believer that America is a melting pot, and it’s good to show our diversity and our differences. When I say differences, it’s actually a positive thing. The Germans have brats and sauerkraut and beer, while in Greek culture, dancing and showing off our food are the ways we celebrate. It’s important to keep things like these going for the next generation and keep the cultures going. We love to share them with the city as well.”

Greek Festival runs from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with Sunday hours running 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free before 4 p.m. each day and all day Sunday. 

While he knows he is biased, Makridakis believes Fort Wayne Greek Festival is the best festival you’ll attend all year. 

“It’s just going to be a big party, and I want everyone to come down and have a great time,” he said. “I’ve said it before, if you come down with your family and spend  a few hours down there, I don’t think you’re going to leave disappointed.” 

Opa!

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