Today was the last day of 32nd Greek Festival in Daytona Beach. It took place in St. Demetrios Church. These festivals became tradition over the years, and this 4-day event attracts a lot of people, and not only Greek.
The parking lot was full, but having lived in the next building for 3 years, I knew how to fool the system, and parked just 100 yards from the church.
There is a bit of history going with this place. The 3-level house, that was where the church stands today, belonged to Mr. Olds, yes, the auto man behind Oldsmobiles. In mid 40s Fulgencio Batista, who lost his Presidential re-election bid in 1944, bought this property and moved there with his family. They lived here in Daytona Beach until he became Cuban Senator in 1948 and then a President. And then a hated tyrant, who cleared the way for an even more evil dictator - Fidel Castro.
Batista gave his properties to the City of Daytona, and the collection of art that he brought to Daytona in the 50s was housed in the Olds house, until it was moved to a new meseum. The collection of art stayed in Daytona, as they refused to return it at request of Castro's government, and this is how Daytona ended up with the second largest after Havana collection of art.
After moving the collection out of Olds house, the city sold the land for the new Greek Church, and after the church was completed, they started this traditionof Greek Festivals, and now every year in November the area around the church becomes so incredibly busy for 4 days.
$2 donation and you are in. Tents in the back of the church and on the lawns by the river. Greek music. Vendors offering everything you can imagine. And, of course, food. Delicious greek food. From famous Gyros, prepared on 10 vertical broilers, to Dolmathes - Grape leaves stuffed with a delicious meat mixture, Souzoukakia - Greek meatballs, Spanakopita - Fila dough rolls stuffed with spinach and Feta cheese, Tiropites - Fila dough triangles filled with four special cheeses, Pastitsio - Baked macaroni with a special cream sauce, Souvlakia - Meat and veggies on a skewer (shish kabob), Galaktoboriko - A custard dessert of layered filo dough, custard and another layer of filo dough covered with a yummy sauce, and much more.
The dancers are on the lower level. Beautiful costumes, unfamiliar but pleasant music, people enjoying a cool air of the cold front, but warm atmosphere, great food, and great entertainment.
Buy, festival. Be there next year.