The delicious smells of grilled meats permeated Wilmington’s Cool Spring neighborhood, home to the 39th annual Greek festival.
The festival kicked off Tuesday and runs through Saturday, June 7th. Proceeds from the five-day event benefit the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on North Broom Street.
With Greek comfort food favorites like gyros, spanakopita, baklava, as well as the licorice-flavored apéritif ouzo, food easily and often takes center stage. At night, the festival also has live music and dancing.
“I don’t think it’s just an ethnic food festival. There are a lot of stories here,” said George Rassias, the church’s parish council president. “It’s a sharing of the culture and there’s a joy in sharing that culture, there’s a joy in sharing their faith … that sense of community, that sense of oneness … and those things were passed down to us from those folks that came before us who built this church.”
Gerry Giannatos is a part of that lineage. He immigrated from Greece to Wilmington in 1948, before the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church existed.
“I was digging up dirt before they start building the church,” Giannatos said. “I feel like it’s my home. And every year, new people come in … we work together fine. We have differences and griping here and there, but when the festival come, we all pitch in together for the benefit of the church.”
Giannatos recalled the very first Holy Trinity Greek Festival. The 83-year-old was one of the original festival organizers in the 1970’s.
“[It’s] changed for the better, all the time for the better. We start with one day, we went two days, Saturday, then we went Saturday, Sunday, then we went to seven days for three years, but it was too much … so cut it down to five days. So [for the] last 25 years, we’re up to five days.”
With most of his friends dead now, Giannatos, who has lung cancer, said he is encouraged each year as more young people get involved with the festival.
“I’m counting on the young people to pick up the load for the future,” he said, hopeful for another 39 years of giving the city of Wilmington the “good flavor of Greece.”
The Holy Trinity Greek Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. through Saturday. Admission is free to the rain-or-shine event.