Run don’t walk: the Greek Festival in Houston is AMAZING!

Above: Houston Greek Festival director Gus Economides, media coordinator Dana Kantalis, and Boutari sales manager Patrick Bennett. Both Gus and Dana told me that their respective families have been involved in the festival, now in its 44th year (!), for three generations. Great folks, GREAT festival.

I have to admit: I was skeptical. When my clients over at BoutariWines.com asked me to cover the Houston Greek Festival for their blog, I imagined one of those stereotypical affairs, like one I attended over the summer in Austin dubiously titled “Italian Festival,” where the raison d’être was that of profiting through the sale of booth space to vendors and not that of celebrating a community and a culture (Tracie P and I were so disappointed.)

Above: All of the food at the Houston Greek festival is prepared by volunteers. The recipes are decided upon by community committees, mostly community matriarchs, Dana told me). No commercial vendors have a presence there.

To my wonderful surprise, I found that this is an entirely homespun, homegrown, grassroots, and community-based festival intended to celebrate Greek culture and cuisine and to benefit the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Houston and its youth programs. EVERY volunteer (and I mean EVERYONE) told me that this is a family affair, with participation handed down from generation to generation (in many cases, the volunteers were fourth generation).

Above: In my capacity as Bloggeropolos (the non-Greek volunteers Hellenize their names for their laminates), I got to taste a lot of great food. The ingredients were fresh and wholesome and man, were they tasty! I’ve never experienced such good food at a large festival. Very cool stuff.

I’ll be heading back this afternoon to the festival with Tracie P, who’s joining me shortly. And we’re doing other fun food and wine stuff while in Houston and on our way back to Austin tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the slideshow I created from my photos yesterday.