SCHENECTADY — There’s a tinge of irony that follows the constant act to preserve tradition: The act itself thus becomes a tradition.
“Well, after 41 years, it’s become a bit of a tradition,” said Olga Delorey, spokesperson for St. George Greek Orthodox’s 41st Annual Greek Festival. “I think everyone looks forward to the Greek festival the weekend after Labor Day.”
In Schenectady, the weekend after Labor Day is something of a full blown party. This year, the festivities kick off on Friday at 5 :30 p.m. with a Battle of the Bands, hosted by WEQX, at the corner of Liberty and Broadway. At the same time, Behind City Hall, you have the aforementioned Greek festival. Now that goes on for three days, accompanied nicely down Jay Street, by Little Italy’s annual Italian Festival on that Saturday. Also on Saturday, down in the city’s historic Stockade District is the neighborhood’s annual art show.
“We are excited,” said Parish Council President Athena Pagnotti. “We have prepared a wonderful venue for your entertainment. Whether it’s lamb in the dining room, or souvlaki under the big tent, we have your favorite Greek delicacies.”
Live music, folk dancing, arts, crafts, church tours, raffles and authentic Greek food will all be featured throughout the free event.
Festival-goers will find foods and imported goods at the Greek Imports Store and Pastry Booth. It’s where to find baklava and galaktoboureko, a popular custard dessert. Even more food has been prepared by parishioners of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, showcased inside the Hellenic Center. Moussaka, chicken souvlaki, lamb shanks yiouvetsi, spanakopita are on the menu.
The St. George Youth Dancers are to perform traditional folk dances throughout the festival. The talented dancing troupe, guided by dance instructor Georgia Tsakopiakos, will perform 40 different dances in costumes representing the homeland. Dancers comprise of different age groups, from as young as 3-years old to 17 and older.
“We perform because we love our church, we love to dance and it is important that we keep our Greek traditions alive,” said Tsakopiakos. “Performing at the annual St. George Greek Festival is our gift to the community at large.”
Prometheus is to perform live music starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, and all day Saturday and Sunday.
Tours of the century old church, featuring Byzantine iconography and architecture, are scheduled for the public to view. And, the Agora Marketplace will have on display arts, crafts and religious items available for purchase.
St. George Greek Orthodox holds its 41st Annual Greek Festival Friday, Sept. 9 to Sunday, Sept. 11. Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The Hellenic Center at 510 Liberty Street hosts the festival directly opposite of the Schenectady County Public Library. The church, itself, is located at 107 Clinton Street, directly across from the rear entrance of City Hall.
For directions and more information, visit the St. George Greek Orthodox website at www.saintgeorgegoc.com.
“What impresses me is the desire of the parish community to maintain their ethnic heritage,” said Delory. “I think it’s particularly strong in the Greek community to teach their children the language, their food, the dance, the music. It’s very, very strong… I think you can find that in any of the ethnic groups in this area.”
Doreen Ditoro agrees. The owner of Ditoro Funeral Home, at the corner of Schenectady’s Little Italy, sees it often. The funeral home has been in the neighborhood for a century, formerly known as the Rossi Funeral Home when Eddie Rossi opened it in 1907. He died nearly 40 years ago, at the age of 102. Families researching their family lineage call her on a near regular basis.
“I tell my daughters, I don’t care who you date or who you marry, just make sure their family lineage is as important to them as it is to you,” said Ditoro.
On Saturday, her tent focuses on the topic of Italian culture and heritage. Genealogists, or the mere curious, won’t be disappointed with information from the Italian Heritage Museum and a visits from the Sons of Italy.
But, what would the day be without food?
The festa includes authentic Italian food from zuppa to arancini; music on two stages, wine, Italian beer, Italian novelties, a homemade wine contest, children’s activities and more.
Several restaurants have a collective hand in this year’s event, including Babcia’s Kitchen at JoJo’s with its sausage and peppers, hot dogs and hamburgers. Perreca’s Bakery’s famous Italian bread, panini, cupcakes and tomato pie will be up for purchase. Civitello’s will serve its famous Italian lemon-ice – a recipe that has remained a secret for nearly a century. Cornell’s calamari, minestra, and rigatoni Bolognese will be on hand. Saw Mill Tavern will have its bar menu available.
“There’s a lot that goes into it,” said Ditoro, who chairs the festival’s committee. “Everyone on the street has something to do. … 100 percent involvement.
Stockade Arts Show
The 65th Stockade Arts Show will be Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Front, Green and North Ferry Streets in the historic Schenectady Stockade.
This show in New York State’s first historic district was the creation of neighbors 65 years ago got together to create artwork. After a while, they began to show their art annually. Prizes for the show still bear the names of these families: Colangelo (new artist to the show) and Cohen (Best of the Stockade) and are donated by their relatives. Today, artists from all over the region are invited to participate – and may register up to the day of the event. Additional artists are always welcome. There is a separately judged category and special prizes for young artists 8 to 18 years old.
Artwork is for sale and the show is a great place to begin an art collection and meet the artists. The rain date is Sunday, Sept. 11 from noon to 4 p.m.
Original works of fine art (including: drawings, paintings, sculpture, graphics, non-utilitarian textile wall hanging and photography) may be displayed and compete for $1,200 in cash prizes. Student artists, 8 to 18, will be judged separately for cash prizes.
For information call (518) 952-0946 or visit StockadeArtShow on Facebook.