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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)

The location of this annual Greek Festival is at St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church in west Houston.  The address is 1100 Eldridge Pkwy., Houston, Texas 77077. The Houston Press considers it to be one of “Top 10” most beautiful churches in our city.

Greek Festival held at this church each year.

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 genuinely 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 for several days in May, and the one closer in town is 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.

He came from a wealthy family but also a pious one. Before turning towards 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 central 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. 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 “Doctor” of the Church in many Christian religions.

As to icons seen in this church and others, they are gorgeous. So are statues of Jesus, Mary and the saints in Catholic churches. The views on icons have been controversial as early as 726 from what I have read, but Western churches had less problem with them.

“Graven images” are forbidden in certain religions, and this contributes to the controversy. The battles raged on as to their acceptance over the centuries. Destruction of some beautiful pieces of ancient art happened due to differing beliefs regarding 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 an idol which is forbidden.

The Greek festival consisted of 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.

Interested people could take tours of the church. 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. Niko Niko’s restaurant puts on this World Gyro Eating Contest.

Six cash prizes are awarded 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.

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

Arched columns at St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church

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 2018 the Greek Festival will run from May 17 through May 20th.  For prices, times and parking information click here.