STEUBENVILLE - Volunteers stood on South Street carefully shaving meat, while Frank Mitchell learned how to make a gyro from Nick Maragos.
"Is this too much meat," Mitchell asked his mentor.
"Naw. That looks good. You will get the hang of this," Maragos replied.
PREPARING THE GYROS — Frank Mitchell, left, learned how to make a gyro from Nick Maragos Tuesday morning as they prepared for the opening day of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church annual food festival. The Greek Festival will continue through Saturday at the church on South Fourth Street in Steubenville. -- Dave Gossett
The men and women, along with a number of young people were busy Tuesday morning making the final preparations for the 27th-annual Greek Festival that started at 11 a.m. inside and outside of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on South Fourth Street.
The event will run from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. until Friday in the Hellenic Hall and under a tent on South Street. On Saturday the festival will continue from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. outside of the church.
"We are fine and we are ready. There are no issues and no one is nervous. We have been doing this for awhile," announced long time volunteer Rikki Kamarados.
"When we finish Saturday night I will go home and feel like sleeping for a week. But we will be back Sunday because we have a Father's Day celebration. But it is all good," she laughed.
Festival Chairman John Scavdis agreed.
"We have been working for this week for the past several months. The food is ready and everything has been set up. We are ready to go. We have a lot of volunteers here today but we can always use more volunteers. We won't turn anyone away," remarked Scavdis.
"We have an outside tent in the street with certain foods and refreshments. But the majority of our authentic Greek food will be available in the church dining hall. New patrons are invited to come into the church hall and enjoy the food while socializing with family and friends. In our Hellenic Hall we will offer complete dinners, including chicken, lamb and fish lamb stew, as well as sausage and meatballs. Outdoors we will have the small doughnuts dipped in honey. And we will have a little cafe set up under the tent where will will offer gyro sandwiches," said Scavdis.
"We have our famous grape leaves and 14 different kinds of cookies. And we will also have an outdoor taverna with beer, wine and wine coolers along with the famous gyros," Scavdis noted.
The Greek Food Festival offers a daily variety of authentic Grecian food, such as roasted chicken, plaki, lamb stew, souzoukakia, loukaniko, moussaka, gyros and Greek salad, as well as Grecian pastries like baklava, diples, hot loukoumades, galaobouriko, Soula's baklava sundae, baklava, kataifi, chocolate baklava, rice pudding baklava cheesecake and Elena's raisin cookies.
Phone-in and carry-out orders are available during the Grecian Food Festival by calling (740) 282-7770. The fax telephone number is (740) 282-2091.
But in the midst of the final prep work Tuesday morning the volunteers found time to sing "Happy Birthday" to Dr. Paul Mastros.
"I am spending my birthday in the kitchen getting the green beans and rice ready. This is all for a good cause, and my family is all here. What better place to celebrate my birthday," said Mastros.
Twenty-five-year-old Dori Locasio has been working at the annual festival since she was 7 years old.
"My sister Zoe and I are now working in the carry-out. We help prepare the trays with the different food orders. And we will be here every day all day. But I enjoy this very much. I wouldn't miss this for anything," explained Dori.
Neither would Becky Campbell of Wintersville, who was one of the first customers in Hellenic Hall Tuesday morning.
"I am getting fish, chicken and the grape leaves for myself and my family. I'll probably try to stop by here every day of the festival because the food is so good," Campbell said.
Mark Elerick of Weirton said he came early Tuesday, "because I'm hungry and I like the Greek food. I'll be back often this week."
"This is a nice event every year. I brought my father with me to get some gyros. I came today but I hope to stop by later this week," said Bob Petrella of Steubenville.
"I believe this will be our best year ever. We added a fifth day to the festival, and we are excited. We haven't had a Saturday as part of our festival for several years. But we decided to include Saturday this year to work with the Dean Martin Festival this Saturday," cited Holy Trinity Greek Parish Council vice president Anthony Mougianis.
"I am more amazed every year by what we all accomplish here. Our Greek community is an older community. But starting in January they start coming here to cook and bake. And we can say without hesitation that we offer true homemade food and pastries. We pride ourselves on our delicious food. I am so thankful for the men and women who do so much to make this festival a success every year," Mougianis stated.
The Rev. Nick Halkias said tours of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church will be offered through Friday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The Greek Dancers will perform nightly at 6 p.m., and the Greek Company will take the stage nightly at 8 p.m.
Parking at the Grecian Food Festival is free, and organizers said Greek icons, music and souvenirs will be on sale at the Agora, or Greek marketplace, during the five-day event.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)