BRISTOL – As part of a tradition first started in 1983, the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church at 31 Brightwood Road is set to share its food and fun with the return of the Zorba Festival as church members prepared meals Saturday morning in advance of the annual event.
Olga Bookas, parish council president of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, said her late husband, Anthony Bookas, chaired the festival for 17 years and helped start the celebration. The event is slated for June 18 from 4 to 10 p.m., June 18 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and June 19 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Vasilios Theodoropoulos and Angelo Pappas have chaired the event. The parish council president stressed the event could not happen without its many volunteers and supporters.
“By starting the festivals, we got the funds to build the church,” said Bookas of fundraising efforts to create the worship area of the church and expand its facilities. ”By the grace of God, we’ve had successful festivals since 1983 and we continue the tradition to bring the community together and show what Greek food, culture and hospitality are about.”
St. Demetrios of Thessalonica was considered a Greek and Christian martyr in the fourth century and a highly regarded military saint. Bookas noted the church is currently comprised of around 70 families who contribute to its activities. It serves as a central piece of many of its parishioners' lives.
“This is the main event where we support the church,” said Bookas. She noted the festival was the largest fundraiser held by the organization for the year and it was essential to its operation. St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church holds another celebration in October, “A Taste of Greece.”
The president said that a jewelry vendor would be present and music would be held Saturday night by DJ Markos. Some cultural dances are also anticipated to be held during the festival. Barbara Tomcak has served as a dance teacher for the church.
“We must have it once a year to raise some funds to be able to pay for the priest, repairs and all of that,” said Bookas. “It’s very fundamental that we continue it. It draws not only the Greek people but throughout the weekend maybe two to three thousand.”
The festival doesn’t count its attendance by tickets but one can often get an idea of how popular it is by the food item counts at its end, said the president.
Last year, the church had a drive-thru for food orders because of covid but this year it will offer visitors the option to eat at the event should they wish to visit and listen to music. If there is good weather, tables will be taken outside.
Among some of the items offered at the festival will be lamb shanks, chicken, pastitsio, spanakopita, dolmades and more. Orders can be taken at the festival or made online at stdemetriosfestival.square.site the days of the event. For more information, call 860-583-3476 or 860-940-8716.