Greek Festival/ all Ethnic Festivals
That said, over the past weekend I attended the Greek Festival at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Schenectady and yes the food was fantastic. The Moussaka was perfection, the Stuffed Pepper fantastic and the spinach pie (Spanakapita) was delicious. And that last comment is coming from a person who avoids his veggies. Another point is most of the above was eaten warmed up the next day. At the festival I went for the Pork Souvlaki. Mostly because it looked so good and wouldn't travel well. That and despite a yogurt type dressing it appeared the most decadent of the offerings.
As I sat a the long tables eating and listening to live musicians play music that was probably thousands of years old and watched costumed dancers offering traditional dances I realized these ethnic festivals are truly a way to express communal pride.
The food servers were pleasant and patient as they served long lines of people. Indeed, behind the counters I recognized several prominent community leaders toiling cooking over hot stoves. I'm sure they did so, willingly and graciously, because they and their families were connected to the Greek community and to the capital district community at large.
But the take-away experience for me was after the costumed dancers left the floor the dance area became filled by local people who wanted to dance.
Of course the most heartwarming was to watch the young children teaching themselves dance steps to the music. But too, watching a father with a teenage son begin a dance and see them joined by various others - men, women, grandmothers, and mothers with infants - all celebrating their culture was the most satisfying aspect of the evening. It was a sight filled with joy.
A day or so later, a warm feeling came over me as I wondered in how many countries throughout the world would a celebration of ethnic traditions be so embraced by those outside the specific culture. It made me proud to live in my community.
I'm sure I'm going to feel much the same way after leaving the Irish Festival this weekend which is at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa.