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Greek festival celebrating 50 years

This fall the Greek Food Festival will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in Modesto. The two-day street fair runs Sept. 19-20 at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 313 Tokay Ave., Modesto, and will feature endless family fun, mouthwatering food, dancing and a tour of the Byzantine-style Orthodox Church.

The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church has called its Tokay location home since the late 1950s; and has been a staple of the Greek Food Festival since 1966. It takes approximately 300 volunteers to make the weekend as successful as it has been over the past half century.

“The festival is an opportunity to welcome the larger community to our complex, our community, to receive them into our home, and welcome them so they might experience the faith and culture of the Greek Orthodox,” Reverend Father Jon Magoulias said about the importance of the festival.

Father Magoulias has been with the church for 29 years and has noticed the difference between the Modesto festival and others he has attended in years past.

“There is much more hands-on for the patrons, such as they are served their meal, they are entertained by the young dancers, a unique tour of the church is given, [and visitors can] shop and discover the culture of our people,” he said.

The Greek cuisine features favorites such as Greek salad with feta cheese and Kalamata olives, baked herb chicken, Greek style vegetables, rice pilaf, Greek ring bread, and the ever popular baklava. Their unique outdoor coffeehouse will feature rich Greek coffee, and made on the spot Greek donut holes, as well as entertainment provided by the church's award-winning Greek dancers dressed in handmade costumes. Delicious treats and meals will also be available through the drive-up window.

Shopping is popular at any street fair and the Greek Food Festival is no different. Imported jewelry, clothing, crafts and deli items will be available in their large outdoor marketplace. The marketplace is directly outside the church and wraps around the back lot.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the weekend is the optional tour of the church. The church itself is a sight to see. Once inside, you can enjoy the breathtaking and awe-inspiring paintings and artwork. The artwork or “icons” as they are known, give a message to those who see it.

“The Greek Orthodox Church is built with great symbolism to teach the faith. It is based off the description of the Temple in the Old Testament. The idea is so when a person walks into the church, a building dedicated to God, that they come in to find peace, and the love and the presence of God,” shared Father Magoulias.

Tickets are currently on sale online through

or by phone at (209)522-7694. Advance tickets are $14 for adults, $17 at the door; admission for children under 12 is $8.50.