OCEAN CITY – For one weekend in the height of summer, the Roland E. Powell Convention Center hosts the Ocean City Greek Festival, an event aimed at draw visitors inside who are looking to be, “Greek for the weekend.”
This year, the 27th Annual Ocean City Greek Festival, Delmarva’s largest festival of its kind, is back to being held on its usual dates, the last weekend of July. For the past three years, the festival had been moved to a weekend in early July. This year, the dates are Friday, July 29 through the Monday, Aug. 1 at the Convention Center on 40th street.
Last year’s Greek Festival brought in approximately 6,000 visitors. With the date resituated to the end of July, attendance is expected to be surpassed this year.
Admission to the festival is free, as is parking at the Convention Center.
With temperatures soaring and heat indices surpassing 100 degrees, the air-conditioned event may offer the respite from the heat people are seeking.
A volunteer-run event, the Ocean City Greek Festival is an event unlike any other in the area. Jessica Waters, communications manager for the Town of Ocean City, said, “It’s always fun to offer something out of the ordinary.”
This summer marks the 27th year celebrating Greek culture in Ocean City.
“To have an event that is as long standing as the Greek Festival is fantastic,” Waters said.
The festival offers a change of pace from the typical summer cycle between the beach, the bay and the Boardwalk.
The annual festival is sponsored by the St. George Greek Orthodox Church, located between 88th and 89th streets in Ocean City. Numerous members of the church will be on hand volunteering their time and even some Greek knowledge should attendees want to broaden their cultural awareness.
“Most Greek people are very welcoming and want to share their culture,” said event coordinator Alexandra Hall.
Starting at noon, the cultural festival is open to those searching for authentic Greek cuisine and a chance to peruse the Marketplace where vendors are set up with jewelry and Greek imports.
Considered the main draw, the festival’s menu consists of all the Greek staples including gyros, lamb shanks, and spanakopita. Desserts include traditional rice pudding and honey-smothered baklava and loukoumades.
Evening entertainment includes dining and dancing to the music of prominent Greek musicians, the Golden Flame Band. The band kicks off at 5 p.m. and plays until 9 p.m.
In years past, the Demetrakia Dance Troupe has performed at the festival but had to cancel this year unexpectedly.
In addition to casual fun, the Greek Festival offers a chance for a serious win. As part of the expanded raffle this year, the event is selling raffle tickets at $100 apiece for the opportunity to win anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. This raffle, the Big Pot, is limited to 200 tickets. In years past, only 100 raffle tickets would be sold for a chance at up $5,000.
The smaller raffle sells tickets for one dollar each for the chance to win $1,000.
“The Greek Festival is the main fundraiser for St. George Greek Orthodox Church. Other churches may have bake sales or bingo, but we have the Greek Festival,” he said.
Hours of operation at the Greek festival lasts from noon and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday and Monday, festivities close down at 9 p.m.
To view the schedule and full menu, visit www.oceancitygreekfestival.com.