WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – This year marks 50 years for the St. Demetrio’s Greek Festival in Warren — a golden anniversary to mark an event that’s actually become one of the biggest Greek festivals in the state.
And it started with humble beginnings.
“I was with my dad the very first year when we were in our church on High Street,” said Nick Kontos, festival chairman. “We set up in the back parking lot and that’s where we had the very first festival.”
“We use to sell sweets in the basement,” said Irene Culetsu, church president. “The little old ladies back then used to make that.”
But in the 50 years since that time, the St. Demetrio’s Greek Fest has grown into an outdoor and indoor event.
“So if anyone doesn’t want the heat, it’s a perfect environment,” Kontos said. “It’s 68 degrees in there, you can have a nice comfortable chair, enjoy your meal, get your pastries — it’s really nice. Even have a glass of wine or beer inside.”
The staple may be the authentic Greek food.
“Greeks love to feed people,” Culetsu said. “And we love to feed people.”
“The festival in Greek is panigyris,” George Callow said. “The festivals that take place in Greece, you’d find this from the butchers and it’s one of the original things — scrapped pork, basic marinade right flavor. Little bit of fun, little bit of love and it’s good.”
And you can’t forget the gyros.
“It’s a feast for the eyes, a feast for the tongue,” said Anna Nikolaides, co-chariman St. Demetrio’s Greek Festival. “It’s the best thing for everybody.”
But the music and dancing keep the atmosphere alive well into the night.
“We have dancing starting at 5-years-old,” Culetsu said. “The kids dance until they’re 20 and we love being Greek! We love it!”
Whether it’s rain or shine this weekend, the festival will continue through Sunday.
“I’ve been on my knees praying to God,” Kontos said. “But if it does, we still have a lot of areas where you can stay out of the weather.”
Because of the threat for rain Saturday, the fireworks show was cancelled for Saturday. Instead, Phantom Fireworks doubled up on the show Friday to give festival goers a firework spectacular in honor of longtime St. Demetrios member Archie Charnis.