Annual Pocatello Greek Festival draws hundreds following one-year hiatus
POCATELLO — After months of preparation and a full year without hosting the event, the Greek Orthodox Church in Pocatello brought its annual festival back to the Gate City on Saturday.
While attendance at the Pocatello Greek Festival was tough to measure, there were lines around the block and buildings full of people. Hundreds of attendees enjoyed Greek dancing, lots of food and tours of one of the country’s oldest Greek Orthodox Churches.
Four of those hundreds was a quartet of Idaho State University graduate students — Mari Cahalan, Beth Mixon, Jolyn Garcia and Alleggra Sundstrom. The women agreed the food was well worth the nearly one-hour wait.
“Just the event atmosphere, it was worth it,” Sundstrom said. “Especially after not having too many events like this last year.”
Prior to the festival starting, Father Constantine Zozos, Parish Priest at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, warned people to expect long lines for food.
“Don’t be afraid of the line,” he told EastIdahoNews.com. “We have two food lines and we get people through as fast as we can.”
He was not overstating.
At noon, one hour after the event began, the line for food ran around the church, down the street and around the block. But with assistance from local “VIPs,” like Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England, the line sustained a swift pace of movement. People at the front of the line reported waiting for around one hour, though they did agree that movement was maintained throughout.
Mixon, Garcia and Sundstrom arrived at the festival around 10:45 a.m. — 15 minutes before it was scheduled to begin — to a line leading well out of the church property. They got their food around 11:30 a.m., when Cahalan arrived and decided not to wait in the line, instead choosing to indulge in pastries which were available at other locations at the festival.
“Try everything,” Garcia said. “Get here early, try all the pastries, just do it all.”
The food was prepared, over the past days and weeks, by church parishioners, Zozos said. All in the church’s commercial kitchen.
For entertainment to go along with the food, Greek music played over a speaker system. And inside an outbuilding adjacent to the church on the grounds, a Greek ethnic dancing troupe from Salt Lake City presented four separate shows.
Dressed in traditional garb, the 40 or so dancers performed dances from both mainland Greece and the surrounding islands.
The Greek Festival has been held nearly every year for the past five decades, according to Zozos, beginning as a fundraiser to maintain the church originally built in 1915. Funds from the festival continue to go to the upkeep of the largely original sanctuary, but some funds are distributed to local nonprofit organizations.