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Hundreds expected to attend second annual Greek Fest 

Local NewsHundreds expected to attend second annual Greek Fest 

Brantford’s Greek community has been hard at work preparing for this year’s second annual Greek Fest at the Hellenic Community Centre on Saturday, July 20, 2024. 

The event is scheduled to run from 1:00 p.m. until midnight.

Constantina Peeler, President of the Hellenic Community Centre, said that while the community has held a celebration in honour of Prophet Elias since the community centre and church was constructed back in 1981, last year, they decided to open it up to the public.

“In Greek culture, we always celebrate Prophet Elias on July 20; The best way to understand this is that it’s kind of like our birthday or our anniversary. Since we opened in 1981, we have always had the celebration on July 20 and last year, we decided to actually open it up to the public,” said Peeler. “It’s basically a celebration for our community for how long we’ve been here, but what we decided to do was make it more of a celebration of our ethnicity and our heritage, showcasing our food, our culture, our traditions and the things that make us proud of being Greek.”

Volunteers show off their iconic “Do it right, be Greek for the night” t-shirts during the inaugural Greek Fest on Thursday, July 20, 2023.

After the success of last year’s Greek Fest, Peeler said she knew she wanted to continue bringing the event back year after year. 

“I was just overwhelmed with the positive feedback and how many people enjoyed it. We had people coming from Toronto, Niagara Falls, London and even Windsor who came out to celebrate and support us and it was just unbelievable so of course we had to do it again,” she said. “I think it’s really important that people know who they are, where they come from and what their heritage is because I think it gives us a real appreciation for other people and it gives us the ability to understand each other more. One of the reasons why we opened up Greek Fest was for the survival and the future of our community. It needs to be here for these children so that when they’re in their forties and one of them is the President, they get to see their children dance and be part of our community.”

Kitchen volunteers were all smiles during the inaugural Greek Fest on Thursday, July 20, 2023.

Peller said that for those who are interested in attending this year’s event, they can expect an evening with plenty of live entertainment.

“There’s nothing quite like Greek music and so we’re going to have a live band coming in from Toronto called Seizmos. I know for me personally, having that live music with the bouzouki is one of my most favorite things because you just want to get up and you want to dance,” she said. “With that being said, of course we’re going to have live dance performances so we’ll have our local junior Greek dance group and Levendia-X Hellenic folklore dance group coming in as well and we’re just really, really excited to welcome them here. I always love seeing the professionals but seeing our local kids dance in their little outfits makes me so happy because they try their best and they dance their little hearts out; it’s the best thing ever and as their dance teacher, they just make me so proud because they represent our community so beautifully.”

Of course, Peeler said that no Greek party would be complete without great food and cultural pride. 

“Our main sponsor is Johnny Greeko’s and the owner is one of our most beloved people in our community. He has, by far, the best and most authentic Greek food around so he’ll be supplying our food for the event,” she said. “Of course, we’ll also have a great bar and a cultural display that really represents our history and our heritage. We’re going to have some backdrops to take pictures in front of like the Parthenon as well, and we’ll be selling our ‘do it right, be Greek for a night’ t-shirts.”

Attendees enjoy live music during the inaugural Greek Fest on Thursday, July 20, 2023.

With so much to celebrate, Peller said that she expects the room to be filled with “kefi.”

“It’s always amazing to watch people really appreciate the culture that you were born into, you know? I love being Greek and with the people in this community, you see the pride we have in it but when you’re born into it, that comes instinctually. You love being who you are and you can appreciate who you are, but watching other people really enjoy that, is just something altogether,” she said. When we have dancing like that with really great music, really great drinks and really great food, in Greek, we call that ‘kefi.” It’s just an electric joy in the room and that’s what we had last year; Our hall was filled with ‘kefi’ and it was just busting out of the windows… We’re really looking forward to that again.”

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