Greek Festival beckoning for culture and fun

Columbia’s Greek Festival is in its 31st year, and based on the crowd in attendance Saturday, it won’t be going away any time soon.

A steady stream of visitors poured into the festival grounds near Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Sumter St. to enjoy Greek food, music, and dancing and check out offerings of all kinds from vendors.

The four-day event began Thursday and concludes with festivities from noon until 8 p.m. Sunday. On Saturday, as usual, the food was one of the biggest attractions.

“It’s so great to come and just try out things you’ve never heard of before,” said Leah Jennings, who attended with her two children. “We’ve had spanakopeta and souvlaki and we definitely won’t leave without trying some baklava.”

Hundreds gathered late in the afternoon and made a large circle around a closed to traffic portion of Main St. in front of the church to watch the festival’s newest attraction: a live reenactment of one of the most famous moments in the history of Greece: the battle of Marathon.

Adults and children alike looked on as narrator Chris Pangalos, a U.S. Marine veteran as well as a historian and award-winning reenactor, set the historical scene.

After his introduction, actors dressed in replicas of the uniforms and armor and carrying replicas of the weapons used by the soldiers in the Greco-Persian War 2,500 years ago stepped onto the “battlefield,” to loud cheers for the Greeks and boos for the Persians.

Pangalos narrated the tactics used by the vastly outnumbered Greeks to defeat a Persian army which had conquered much of the known world before attacking the Greek city-states.

Admission to the festival is free for all ages. More information on offerings from food and vendors is available at the event’s website.