PHOTOS: Opa! First weekend of Greek Fest 2020 kicks off in Saanich

Volunteers Paige Holms (left), Demi Koutougos and Steph Kosmas pack orders at Greek Fest 2020. Greek Fest is back this weekend, running from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 4 to 7. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
A taste of Greece Alex Niketas, a Greek Fest volunteer of 10 years, shows off a mountain of loukoumades – Greek honey donuts. See story on Page A7. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Greek Fest 2020 volunteer Rowan Zinkan runs a large food order out to the customers waiting in their vehicle at the drive-thru. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Volunteers cook and prep orders like a well-oiled machine as customers line the Greek Community Parking lot waiting for a turn at the Greek Fest drive-thru. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Tim Petropoulos keeps the kitchen organized as orders pile up at Greek Fest 2020. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Greater Victoria’s Greek Fest – the much-loved festival celebrating Greek food and culture – is marking its 19th year with a pandemic-friendly drive-thru featuring kebabs, baklava and more.

On Saturday (Aug. 29) afternoon, foodies lined the Greek Community Centre on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich as the second day of Greek Fest got underway.

The 2020 festival looks different than it has in previous years as crowds of hungry attendees will not be forming in Elk and Beaver Lake Park and the live music and dancing cannot take place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the setbacks, organizers found a creative way to keep Greek Fest going. On the usual festival weekends – Aug. 28 to 30 and Sept. 4 to 7 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. – souvlaki aficionados, hummus lovers and spanakopita fiends can access their favourite foods at the Island Health-approved drive-thru and online ordering system.

Alex Niketas, who’s volunteered at Greek Fest for a decade, said despite the changes, attendance has been “steady,” spirits are high and food is moving out of the kitchen quickly.

Niketas said the loukoumades – Greek honey donuts – and the half-kilo lamb plates have been flying out the door this year. He noted that the lamb has been roasted on a skewer per traditional cooking methods.

“Come for the lamb, come for the hospitality,” said Tim Petropoulos, president of the Greek Community, as Greek music blasted from speakers lining the parking lot.

All food orders must be placed online at greekfest.ca and can be picked up at the community centre. Only 50 vehicles are permitted on-site at a time and only those who’ve placed online orders can access the community centre. Attendees are asked to remain in their vehicles while picking up their food and take their orders elsewhere to eat – Niketas suggests heading to the nearby Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park for a picnic.

Volunteer food runner Rowan Zinkan said patrons should “come early” so they don’t miss out on their favourite meals.

During the Greek Fest weekends, the Greek Heritage Project Museum will be open for half-hour visits that must be booked in advance. To register, contact the curator at greekhpm@gmail.com.

-With files from Christine Van Reeuwyk.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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