MANSFIELD – Come for the food, stay for the culture.
The 2015 Greek festival will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Sts. Constantine and Helen Orthodox Church, 265 W. Third St.
The festival offers authentic Greek food, faith, culture and dancing.
“We’re always striving to be even more open to the community,” Father Michael Ellis said.
Ellis said people from eastern Europe, including Greeks, Romanians, Russians and Serbians, have similar Orthodox backgrounds.
“Their culture and their faith were intertwined,” he said.
Ellis said festival-goers will experience the entirety of that culture and should hear people speaking several languages other than English.
“It’s really like being in another world,” Ellis said.
Connie Nearhood has been in that world most of her life. She is co-chair of this year’s festival.
“I grew up in that church,” Nearhood said. “I used to be one of the dancers.”
While Nearhood now lives in Columbus, she said she remains a parishioner, along with about 75 other families. She said the church attracts people from Ashland, Galion, Bucyrus, Marion and Delaware.
The Greek festival opens at 11 a.m. Friday with a limited lunch menu until 4 p.m. It will stay open until 10 p.m. The remaining hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Those who pay the $2 admission charge will receive a free pop or bottle of water.
Nearhood said among the festival’s edible offerings are such pastries as baklava, homemade bread and Greek beer, which she said is hard to find locally.
The Grecian Keys, an Akron-area band, will provide live music, and a vendor from Florida will sell Greek jewelry and other goods.
“We get some people who get food to go, but the majority of people stay and have a good time,” Nearhood said.
Ellis, who has been at the church for about five years, said the quality of the festival’s food is “second to none.”
“We make everything in-house,” he said. “We use our own recipes, our own techniques.
“We want everybody to feel welcome. It’s great if you can come hungry — you won’t be disappointed.”
If you go
What: Greek festival
Where: Sts. Constantine and Helen Orthodox Church, 265 W. Third St.
When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday (limited lunch from 11 to 4), 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $2, those under 12 admitted free