Fans of the Greek Food Festival will be happy to hear that the popular event at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church is still taking place this weekend, although in altered form.

The festival will be from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at the church, 22909 Center Ridge Road. The food is available only through carry-out. Those attending will drive through the east side of the church, receive a paper menu and order there before driving to the back of the gym, where someone will bring the food out.

In previous years, the multi-day festival has drawn more than 40,000 visitors.

“It was really disappointing when we found out we couldn’t do our Greek Festival the way we normally do it,” said Church Office Manager Eleni Papouras-Jenks. “We wanted to bring the community together after being apart for so long.”

The festival will feature a modified menu of nine meals, including traditional and chicken gyros, Keftedes (Greek meatballs) with fries, and a Pastisio Platter, which is like a Greek lasagna. The church also is also offering a family pack of five gyros to be cooked and assembled at home.

“The church has always been about community and fellowship,” Papouras-Jenks said. “We wanted to create a positive outreach both for our volunteers but also to the Rocky River community that we’ve had such a great relationship (with) for the past 60 years.”

To make sure the food is safely prepared, 25 church volunteers will work spaced out in the church’s social hall, which is big enough for 450 people. Volunteers will wear masks and gloves. Work stations will be disinfected after each use.

Unlike previous years, there won’t be live entertainment. However, speakers set up throughout the parking lot will be playing Greek music. Also, the church is posting a video of the church’s youth kyklos dancers performing a special socially distanced dance on the church’s Facebook page and YouTube to celebrate the festival, Papouras-Jenks said.

The money raised from the event will help fund a wide range of programs for the church. This includes youth and senior ministries as well as social outreach programs such as feeding the homeless at the St. Herman House in Cleveland.The festival, which is considered a big source of income for the church is not expected to raise a ton of money this year because of the pandemic, said Event Chairman Byron Sooner

“We’re thankful for what we can get,” said Sooner, whose mother Elaine chaired the first greek festival 60 years ago. “People are hurting and we want to help anyway that we can.”

Contact this reporter at akamczyc@westlifenews.com or 216-307-6614.

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