Like all other events forced to shutter festivities due to the pandemic, what’s become a tradition for many in Wilmington returns this weekend just in time to welcome the summer season: Greek Festival is back in full swing.
For St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the festivities will be even more special because it’s the 30th anniversary of the celebrated event.
“It’s been good to see the excitement, not just from our church community but from the community at large as well,” said Basile Katsikis, co-chair of the Greek Festival.
Katsikis promises lots of excitement for those who attend the Greek Festival this year. There will be Greek dancers, a live Greek band that will play the entire event for all 3 days and of course, Greek food.
“The smell of the food as you drive by draws you in,” he said, adding that it is pretty phenomenal food.
Katsikis said over the two years of the pandemic, the church served 4,800 vehicles for one drive-thru event and 5,200 for the most recent car-only festival. He said the festival has decided to keep the drive-thru open again this year, but festival officials are excited to bring the community back to the church with a full slate of festival activities.
The three-day event will involve the participation of the entire church congregation, from priest to parishioners, according to the Katsikis, but it’s something the church wouldn’t have any other way.
“This is a true Greek Festival. It allows our church community to showcase their talents and for us to display our heritage and bring our best to the Wilmington community,” Katsikis said.
The Greek Festival is also beneficial to other Wilmington nonprofits. Partial proceeds from the festival go to the Good Shepherd Center, First Fruit Ministries and Family Promise of the Lower Cape Fear.
St. Nicholas has deep roots in Wilmington. The church started downtown Wilmington over 76 years ago. After years of growth, it moved to its present site across from UNC-Wilmington in the mid-'80s. Katsikis said the church will be open for tours this weekend as well.
“I never knew 30 years ago when we started this, it would turn into something this big," he said. "We embraced the community and they embraced us and we are very thankful.”
The festival kicks off Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will remain open on Sunday until 5 p.m. Parking is free at the UNCW auxiliary parking lot behind Taco Bell and a free shuttle will be provided during festival hours. Visit the church's website for more information