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Greek Glendi Festival celebrates 30 years in Sarasota

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Three decades ago ago, the local Greek Orthodox Church in Sarasota held a small, one-day celebration for its parishioners. 30 years later, the annual St. Barbara Greek Glendi has grown into a large, four-day festival that promises “an authentic cultural experience” for thousands of eager visitors.

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2014 marks the Glendi’s 30th anniversary, and attendees will once again enjoy hospitality, food, music and dance highlighting Hellenic culture. For the $4 admission fee, visitors can experience live Greek music by Ellada, a band comprised of some of the best Greek musicians in the nation, watch costumed folk dancing by Hellenic dancers, explore a large tented outdoor Agora “marketplace” full of Greek jewelry, clothing, and handicrafts, and browse the Bakaliko with its selection of gourmet food items like imported cheeses, olives, and olive oils.

An adventure zone is available for children, and all visitors are welcome to take one of the daily 30-minute guided tours of the church to receive a fascinating explanation of its colorful Byzantine mosaic and fresco iconography.

For many, the highlight of the Glendi is its food tent with an authentic Greek menu, which includes dishes such as Avgolemono Soup (chicken soup made with the classic combination of egg and lemon sauce), Dolmathakia (rice and special seasonings wrapped in marinated grape leaves) and Chicken Souvlaki (marinated, grilled chicken breast topped with a creamy Tzatziki sauce).

Those with a sweet tooth will swoon over the huge selection of fabulous Greek pastries and breads on offer. Can’t decide which tempting delight to try? You can always take home an assorted Pastry Express Box which includes Melomacarona (orange spice cookies dipped in honey and topped with crushed walnuts), Kourambiethes (traditional wedding butter cookies dusted with confectioner’s sugar), Koulourakia (crispy butter cookies, twisted and topped with toasted sesame seeds), Kataifi (shredded Phyllo dough wrapped around crushed walnuts and dipped in honey syrup) and Baklava (buttered Phyllo dough filled with a spicy nut filling and laced with a honey syrup). Don’t forget to get a taste of Greek Coffee at the Kafenion (coffee shop) or try a glass of wine from the Taverna.

$100 raffle tickets will be sold during the festival for a chance to win the first prize of either a 2014 Lincoln MKZ or 2014 Lincoln MKX, a $7,500 cash second prize, or a round-trip for two third prize to Greece and the islands (a $5,000 value). The raffle benefits St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church and is sponsored by Alex Karris Lincoln.

2014 Greek Glendi Dates & Hours:
Thursday, February 6, 11am-9pm
Friday, February 7, 11am-9pm
Saturday, February 8, 11am-9pm
Sunday, February 9, Noon-8pm

Location: St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church
7671 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota, FL

Cost: $4, children under 12 admitted free. Free parking is available at the church or take a free shuttle bus (Fri-Sun) from Trinity Church one mile north on N. Lockwood Ridge Road.

Raffle drawing will be held on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 7pm.

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