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Locals can experience ‘the best Greek food this side of Athens’ at annual festival

Faith

POCATELLO — As their annual fundraiser event approaches, the congregation of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Pocatello wishes all an enthusiastic “kali orexi” — the Greek equivalent of “bon appétit.”

The Greek Festival brings thousands to the church grounds each year to enjoy a tour of a century-old church and an interaction with Greek culture. But the highlight of an event that features cultural performances is the traditional Greek food prepared by members of the church.

“The parish works many, many hours and months to prepare all this food,” Parish Priest Father Constantine Zozos told EastIdahoNews.com. “And it’s all homemade in our commercial kitchen. It’s top of the line. As I always say, it’s the best Greek food this side of Athens.”

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Food items will be available for purchase individually with different items available from different lines. Sections of the grounds will be dedicated to pastries, while other lines will feature pasta. And the line that tends to be busiest will be for the rotisserie lamb.

The lamb is always the hot ticket at this event, but this year, “the lamb is just going to be fantastic,” Zozos said.

Tressa Rockwood, the president of the parish council and chairman of the festival committee, said two members of the Ogden, Utah, parish leadership will make the difference.

“They’re going to teach us how they cook lamb for the masses down there. People rave about it,” she said. “We’ll be cooking it outside over coals, and it tastes delicious.”

The new lamb preparation will not be the only new thing to the festival.

Two of the most popular dishes, pastichio and spanakopita, will be purchasable in take-and-bake pans. As Rockwood told EastIdahoNews.com, 50 family-size containers of each will be available at the event. This gives those in attendance the opportunity to take some of the Greek cuisine home to share with family and friends.

The event will take place Saturday, Aug. 27, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

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All revenue collected during the event goes toward major renovations to the church and church grounds. As Rockwood said, minor upkeep is paid for by the congregation. This fundraiser is meant to maintain one of the oldest places of worship in the state.

The church, Zozos added, is a designated National Historic Site.

“A lot of the money that we have raised over the years has gone to restoring the sanctuary and beginning to restore the landscaping and the other building that are on the property,” he said. “Some of the money also goes toward charities in Pocatello and other nearby places that we have given to.”

Along with the more than 6,000 pastries, pasta and lamb available during the festival, the parish will also provide a tour of the church, the likes of which are not available anywhere else in Idaho, Zozos said.

“We just want everybody to come out and enjoy themselves,” he said. “It’s a great family affair. There’s something for everyone.”

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