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Chapels and Churches, Events

Annual Greek Festival in West Houston is Lots of Fun!

Posted: April 10, 2016 at 1:04 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
Greek Festival held at this church each year.

Greek Festival held at this church each year.

The location of this annual Greek Festival is at St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church in west Houston.  The Houston Press considers it to be one of “Top 10” most beautiful churches in our city.

Years ago my husband and I attended a couple of Greek Festivals closer to town at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and we had a good time.

There were two reasons we were drawn to attending the Greek Festival at St. Basil the Great church last year.

Number one…our good neighbor is a member and invited us.  Number two…it is closer to where we live.  So we went and I can truly report that we had a wonderful time.

For people who wish to attend a Greek Festival in our city twice a year, that is possible.  The one in west Houston is typically held for several days in May and the one closer in town is held in October.

I will be sharing photos in this blog from our visit to the Greek Festival last year in 2015.

Here is a layman’s synopsis regarding Saint Basil…

St. Basil is deemed a saint in many of the Christian churches.  According to Wikipedia he is venerated in  these churches: “Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodoxy, Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion and Lutheranism.”  So he is well known across many of the differing religions sharing that common bond.

While some religious beliefs may vary among Christians this man who became a saint ploughed fertile ground with lasting consequences.

He came from a wealthy family but also a pious one. Prior to turning towards a religious life, he was a lawyer and teacher.  Most of his wealth he ultimately gave to the poor and needy.

Basil of Caesarea after turning towards an ascetic and religious life ultimately became the Bishop of what we now know as Turkey.

One of his main beliefs had to do with the Trinity.  God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost were all part of the same God.

Inside St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church for a tour

Inside St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church for a tour

Living while doing manual labor and praying in communal monasteries was encouraged by him.  As a matter of fact he had one built on the estate of his family. St. Basil spent his life teaching, praying and doing charitable works.

St. Basil was venerated shortly after his death as a saint and to many is considered to be a “Father” and/or “Doctor” of the Church in many Christian religions.

As to icons seen in this church and others…they are truly beautiful.  So are statues of Jesus, Mary and the saints in Catholic churches.  The views on icons has been controversial as early as 726 from what I have read.  Religious images were opposed by Eastern churches but Western churches had less problem with them.

The battles raged on as to their acceptance over the centuries.  Those who believed that they were being venerated referred back to the forbidding of “graven images.”  Many of the ancient pieces of artwork have been destroyed because of the controversy of right or wrong over this subject.

From what my neighbor told me, the flat images (icons) in the Greek Orthodox churches are considered OK whereas to this day they consider statues or sculptures of the same saints not to be so.

It may be a small detail but things like that can be points of difference between Christian churches.  In some Christian religions even a crucifix with Jesus hanging on the cross is considered to be a point of idolatry which is to be shunned.

Getting back to the festival, it was four days of being able to taste different types of Greek food.

Greek music and dancers dressed in traditional garbs entertained the crowds.  They had groups ranging in age from four on up to adults. The Greek costumes some of the dancers wore were detailed and beautiful.

Tours of the church were given for those interested.  We took advantage of it as you can tell from my photos.

Gyros sandwich we both chose to eat while at the Greek Fest - Delicious!

Gyros sandwich we both chose to eat while at the Greek Fest – Delicious!

We did not stay to see the gyro eating contest.  A restaurant by the name of Niko Niko’s puts on this World Gyro Eating Contest.

Six cash prizes are awarded with the top prize being $2,500.  Naturally this draws people who do that sort of thing for the prize money.

Another contest with a smaller prize of $100 is for non-Greek people who wish to get up in front of the audience that day and do some Greek dancing.

I am sure that is fun to watch and it was happening the day we were there but we had other plans for later that day so could not stay to watch it.

The food is typical Greek consisting of such things as the gyro sandwiches which we both chose to eat.

Other items are stuffed grape leaves, souvlaki, spanakopita, tiropita, pastichio and lamb to mention just some of the offerings.  Of course for dessert there is baklava and loukoumades.

Arched columns at St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church

Arched columns at St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church

Except for the church tours given by Father Luke Palumbis, this is an outside event.  Tents are set up for some shade in places.

A few vendor tables were there selling various goods including jewelry.

A children’s area had an inflatable slide for the little ones as well as other carnival type rides.

Estimates of around 15,000 people attend this 4 day event.

This year of 2016 the Greek Festival will run from May 12 through May 15th.  For prices, times and parking information click here.