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Carrying on a Cultural Tradition

By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher

Meagan Limone finishing up her terrarium

The Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Price was founded in 1918 and remains the second oldest Orthodox Church west of the Mississippi River still in use in the same location. And, as with many cultures, the local Greek community continue to honor their traditions each year with the annual Greek Festival Days. Last weekend was the 30th annual celebration.

They bill the event as the cultural event of the year and offers a variety of food, entertainment and authentic Greek traditions.

Terry Bikakis served as chairperson for this year's event serving in this capacity five other times in the 30-year history.

An estimated 6,000 people made their way through the food lines and this year attendance was up. Bikakis cited the addition of a new web page attracting a lot of outside people to the area. "We even had a family drive all the way from Kentucky because of the web page, bringing eight others with them to the festival," he stated.

The authentic Greek food and pastries included many traditional dishes such as the cheese pitas and triangles known as spanpotia and tiropita. A variety of meat is included such as Gyros, made of onion and lamb in a pita bread. Other popular meat dishes is the lamb (arnie) and pork on a stick, known as shis-ka-bobs. An often requested favorite are the stuffed grape leaves known as dolamades and one of the many pastry favorites are the bakalvia.

The local church serves as a parish to around 125 families.

Bikakis says it takes the dedicated cooks about six weeks to pull everything together. Although some of the pastries were done ahead of time, all the food was prepared fresh and many of the cooks included 80-year old women of the church who worked endless hours in preparation for the event. Bikakis did say that many other community people pitched in and assist with the activities.

This year the committees included a lot of the younger people involved and the event continues to keep the Greek traditions alive. "We want to learn to do this," was a popular phrase said by many of these younger folks, said Bikakis, as they assisted in the food preparation.

The entertainment consisted of three dance troupes. These troupes tend to be a large draw for the event.They range in age from 10 to their late 20's. "They are often the highlight of the celebration," says Connie Hamilton, publicity chairperson.

Dyanosis Dance Group from Holy Trinity Greek Church in Salt Lake City returned to Price to perform throughout the weekend. Two other groups, the junior and senior GOYA (Greek Orthodox Youth of America) also performed during the celebration.They just returned from a trip to Disneyland where they performed. The dancers come to Price on their own expense, many bringing their family and friends.

Price has been a melting pot of cultures since its beginning and it's these traditions, such as the Greek Festival, that makes the area so unique.





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