Pensacola participates in 58th annual Greek Festival

By Rachel Witbracht
Staff writer

Pensacola natives are familiar with the abundance of street festivals that frequent the social calendar, and the annual Greek Festival is a fall favorite of many.

For the last 58 years, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, located Downtown, has held a fundraiser that attracts nearly 30,000 guests over the course of three days. The funds accumulated are split between the church and a local charity, and this year’s choice was the Miracle League of Pensacola.

Rebecca Pappas is a lifelong member of the church and has grown up around the Greek Festival since she was 8 years old.

“It all started out as a spaghetti dinner,” Pappas, who helps run the media for the event, said. “It’s grown into a three-day event full of, what I like to call, the four F’s: food, fun, festivities and fellowship.”

On Sunday, the youngest group of dancers performed their folk dances. The elementary-aged children clapped and sang alongside each other to close out the weekend. (Photo by Rachel Witbracht)

One of the biggest selling points of the entire weekend is the food. Lines are constantly wrapped around the side of the church, where festival-goers await items like gyros, roasted lamb, spanakopita and more. Alongside the savory foods is a laundry list of homemade sweets, like baklava and giant loaves of sweet bread.

For the fun Pappas mentioned, there are scheduled dances and shows throughout the weekend. Guests can learn traditional Greek dances, even if they are first-timers.

Children of the church share their choreographed folk dances with the Kostas Kastanis Band performing live in the background. During breaks, church tours are offered.

Aside from the main tent, where the band and dancers were located, this outside venue welcomed more festival goers eating their homemade Greek goods. (Photo by Rachel Witbracht)

University of West Florida student Madison Shelquist visited the festival for the first time this year.

“It was awesome to see the entire community come out to support the church. The food was great and everyone was smiling and laughing,” Shelquist said. “You could see how much everyone liked the festival just by walking around.”

In addition to raising money for the church and for the Miracle League of Pensacola — a baseball league for the disabled — Pappas said that a portion of the money will go to Hurricane Irma relief.

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