In August, the newsletter from St. George’s Cathedral quipped, “Sunday School will begin on Sept. 23. That’s the week after Glendi for those of us who use ‘Glendi Time’ to keep track of the seasons....” The festival, held annually for the last three decades, is named for the Greek word for ‘good times.’ Sixteen-year event chairman George Copadis said Glendi has grown to become an integral part of the year, regularly attracting 35,000 visitors to St. George’s in Manchester and raising around $270,000.
This year, a portion of proceeds will go to New Horizons soup kitchen.
Before 1980, when it was first dubbed “Glendi,” the event was referred to as the Annual Bazaar and was basically a family get-together with a simple menu and dancing. Each successive year it grew larger, Copadis said, and the church found itself adding three walk-in refrigerators, enlarging the kitchen and purchasing new industrial appliances.
“We have well in excess of 200 volunteers, and we are well-prepared and well-organized for the city of Manchester and the state to participate,” he said.
The authentic Greek food, especially pastries, is a big part of the draw. Carol Dionis, treasurer of the Anagennesis Ladies Society, said that groups of parishioners have been cooking since June.
“Some recipes are done in small groups, and others take a lot of people. Spanakopita, which is popular, is a big prep day, but they are a lot of fun. We listen to music and have a big lunch together,” Dionis said.
Church volunteers have been preparing a menu of Greek comfort food for the dining tent. Lamb, chicken and meatballs all go Greek with blends of seasonings and homemade ingredients such as tomato sauce.
Loukamades have their own table under the tent. A true fair food done the Greek way, loukoumades are fried dough soaked in syrup, then sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Other finger desserts for sale are butter-based koulourakia, twist cookies with a hint of vanilla; honey-dipped finikia cookies topped with walnuts, and simpler kourambeithes, which are also butter-based and topped with powdered sugar.
A lot of pastry items use flakier filo dough. For baklava, the dough is buttered and encases walnuts and honey. Filo is shredded and then baked with a blend of walnuts and syrup to make kataifi.
“The volunteers are focused in the kitchen. I have been doing it for less than 10 years, but some women are in their 80s and 90s, they’ve been here since the event began. They inspire us,” Dionis said.
“Generation to generation, people are working to keep up tradition,” Copadis said.
Two years ago, the event added a Taverna selling Greek wine and beer as well as American beverages. .
Dionis will put on cooking demonstrations, two on Friday and three on Saturday. Last year she did dolmathes; this year she’s baking spanakopita. “It’s another inroad to the culture, a recipe we can share with people. They can come out for some authentic Greek food we’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into and enjoy it, then take some home,” Dionis said.
Take-out food is available, too. So are imported Greek gifts. Souvenir booths will be selling wares like jewelry, clothing and blankets, Glendi memorabilia, religious icons and books on the history of Greek people and culture.
“We want people to be able to say, ‘Today I’m gonna be as Greek as any Greek that belongs to the church,’” Copadis said.Church tours of St. George’s, which anchors the event and the Greek community, are popular. Live entertainment will be provided by DJ Meiti, Boston Lykeion Ellinidon, and Kostas Taslis and his Orchestra.