Greek Festival Annual 5K, My Reminder of the Past

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By Glenna Etzel, Contributing Writer

Summer, while one of my favorite times of the year, is also one of my busiest times of the year. In my family, the joke is that we have something going on almost every single weekend. Like most years, 2017 has also been a busy year. For me personally my busy summer weekends begin on the second weekend in June and goes until the last weekend of July. Of course, while I am busy with certain events, holidays, or birthdays, I still am enjoying every moment of it. As a child, my favorite event in the summer, for obvious reasons, was the Annual Greek Festival.

In my adult years, I still enjoy the event; but it was more special to me during my younger years. Now, the event is special to me because it reminds me of the hardships my great-grandparents and grandparents went through during the earlier days of the community. The event also reminds me that our community has come to know and love the Greek Culture and its Orthodox faith.

This event began in 1976 as a small gathering of members of the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. Over the years, it has grown into a two-day event for everyone to enjoy. Many people from my mother’s generation still use this event as a reason to return home. Heck even many people from my generation still use this as a reason to return home!

Preparation for the event takes months. In years past the “older” generation would work for weeks before the event preparing the food. The majority of the food prep took place during Monday to Friday. Today most of the preparations for the events take place on the weekend. In all honesty, I do not help to prepare for the event as I should and I want to take a moment to express my appreciation for those who actually show up every weekend to help. These individuals, in my opinion, are Rock-Stars!

Of course, I do still help out with the event. I try my best to help my mom and Bill as they cook the tiropita (cheese triangle). As a teenager I faithfully showed up on Saturdays to serve food. Recently I attempted to help count the money collected. With the use of debit and credit cards however this task is not the ordeal it once was years ago. Since 2013, however, my main contribution to the Greek Festival has been the Annual 5k Run held on Saturday morning!

In 2013, after my first 5k event, I considered suggesting we also have a 5k Walk/Run. For a brief moment, although I want to get back to it, I was running faithfully almost every single day. Along with my mom and the County Recreation Department, the 5k Walk/Run was proposed to members of the church.

Truthfully, I think everyone assumed it would immediately fail; at least that is what I assumed. Much to my surprise, it was actually an event people were talking about. The rumor was that if you could outrun a Greek you would receive a shish kebabs. I never really understood who this “Greek” was to beat, but it made for a great laugh. Instead, participants receive a $5 or $10 Food Certificate depending upon if it is an individual or family. Additionally, the participates receive a t-shirt.

Over the years participation in the event has sadly seemed to dwindle. Some of this is attributed to the “5k Fad” simmering down. This year however, I am happy to report that we still have almost 30 runners. In 2014 it was suggested that we find T-Shirt Donators. This would allow for 100% of proceeds events to pass back to the Church/Festival Fund. Registration for this year’s event is still open. It is a perfect way to challenge yourself/your friends, “get your steps,” and get some delicious food!

As I mentioned, over the past few years the event participation has dwindled. Still, though, I absolutely love this event and for one very basic reason; it is a true example of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Our ancestors were active. In my mind, this event is a reminder that an active lifestyle, with an occasional Koulorakia, can result in a healthy life!