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Cumming Greek Festival opens Friday
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Forsyth County News

I can hardly believe it is October. I love this time of year. Pumpkins are everywhere, the days and nights are finally beginning to cool off and, of course, it’s time for the Cumming Greek Festival.

We always look forward to a fun Greek experience at St. Raphael, Nicholas & Irene Greek Orthodox Church in Forsyth County. If you have never been, hopefully I can convince you to attend this year. The festival opens Friday and runs through Sunday.

First and foremost, the food is homemade, authentic and fantastic. Those who know me, know I don’t say that often.

Parking is free and admission is $2, and free for children 12 and younger.

This year, visitors will park at the Vine Community Church on Friday and at West Forsyth High School on Saturday and Sunday. From there, air-conditioned buses will drive guests the five minutes it takes to reach the church on Bethelview. The buses will run every five minutes.

The only visitors who will be allowed to park at the church are those who have a valid handicap parking permit.

Don’t let the short bus ride deter you. This was necessary due to the vast turnout and is the same system used by many other popular festivals.

Last year, the festival drew about 8,000 people and organizers expect to top that in 2015. It’s truly amazing how much this fun event has grown.

If you have never attended a Greek festival, invite some friends, pack up the kids and head over there.

The entire time, there are people dancing, playing music, singing and just having a great time.

You can sample the food while watching authentic Greek dancing by adults and children from Greek churches in Atlanta, as well as the local one.

There is also a Greek village where you can go shopping. They always have interesting food products like olive oil and olives.

My jewelry-addicted friends love the jewelry selections, and there are plenty of accessories for the “fashionistas” out there. There are also some beautiful ceramics and other artifacts.

One of my favorite finds a few years ago was a simple silver cross from the little store inside the church.

This is a great place to do some early Christmas shopping for some unique gifts for friends and family.

Besides music, dancing, food and shopping (did I mention there are plenty of Greek wines and beers you can try), there are activities for small children. They include a petting zoo and bounce house.

Trust me, there is plenty to keep everybody, young and old, thoroughly entertained.

If you are unfamiliar with the Greek Orthodox religion, take time to go on a tour of the charming church. Tours will be every hour on the half hour.

There is so much history behind this religion and it is fascinating to learn the church’s origins. The people I know from this church are deeply religious and passionate about their faith. There is something contagious about that.

After the festival, the church will be offering a 13-week in-depth study course on Greek Orthodoxy.

I spoke with Father Barnabas Powell, the pastor, who said they are all geared up and excited about what promises to be the biggest festival yet.

“Our main reason for having the festival is to share our hospitality with the community,” he said. “We love Forsyth County and love welcoming people from here and all over north Georgia to our church.”

Barnabas went on to say that 90 percent of new attendees come to the church because of their experience at the Greek Festival. 

“We have the wonderful problem of having no room,” he said. “We are at 110 percent capacity,” Barnabas said.

He added that the primary reason for the festival is to show hospitality to the community.

“We want to throw open our doors and invite the community we know and love to come share a meal and some good times with us,” he said.

Barnabas also wanted to alert readers that the large sign outside the church has been taken down temporarily due to the widening of Bethelview.

Proceeds from the festival go toward helping the church expand to accommodate its growing congregation, but also to assist local charities.

“We always set aside a portion of proceeds to support local charities in Forsyth County such as No Longer Bound, Jesses House and The Place,” Barnabas said.

I hope you will consider attending this year’s Greek Festival. The atmosphere is fun and energetic. It’s a party you don’t want to miss. Opa!

 

Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at contact@adlenrobinson.com.