Huntington tradition Greek Fest begins this weekend


Sadie Helmick

Greek Fest begins this weekend at 11 a.m., Friday at St. George Greek Orthodox Church located on 701 11th Avenue in Huntington.

A Huntington tradition celebrating the culture and ancestry of Greece, Greek Fest begins this weekend at 11 a.m., Friday at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Huntington.

Father Mark Elliot, priest of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, said Greek Fest gives the Huntington community a chance to be involved in Greek culture in America.

“It’s an opportunity for people in the region to stretch themselves a little bit by experiencing another culture,” Elliott said. “America is a place where we bring many cultures together to shape our country, and this is us making our visible contribution to American lives.”

Elliot said having a festival celebrating Greek culture is an essential way to bring together the community with fun and commonality.

“This is a simple way to show them our culture, opposed to reading a book,” Elliott said. “It’s a simple introduction to Greek culture to experience the food. Food is a common denominator for all of us, we all love food and want to experience the table together, so we are able to share our heritage, and it’s a major draw to the community.”

Constantine Svingos, marketing major and junior at Marshall University, said the Greek Festival forms Huntington into one big family in spite of cultural differences.

“As Greeks, family is a big priority and when strangers come in for Greek Fest, we immerse them into our family and give them a taste of what our life and faith is about,” Constantine Svingos said. “And allows us as a church and a group of people to express our culture upon Huntington, while gaining some new members.”

Constantine Svingos said he has been dancing in the Greek Fest since he was five years old, as the dances have been passed down through the generations.

“My father was a dancer in his day, along with my theías (aunts) and theíos (uncles), who brought us up on the dances, that give me the chance the express the inner roots of my culture with a little flash,” Constantine Svingos said. “As a kid, I remember people coming to watch me dance and being shy, but as I grew older I really embraced the whole cultural aspect and now encourage my friends to come out. Now I like to show my friends what my life is really about, and Greek Fest gives me the opportunity to do it.”

Nick Svingos, Constantine’s father and owner of a gyro stand, said the Greek Fest is a taste of Greece with little cost.

“Huntington loves the Greek Fest, and people talk about it throughout the year, because they enjoy the cultural experience it brings, and they get to have a taste of Greece right here in their backyard without having to really go there,” Nick Svingos said.

Nick Svingos said the prepping for Greek Fest is not a quick and easy process.

“We have been prepping for months now, it’s about an eight month process to prep for the Greek Fest,” Nick Svingos said.

Nick Svingos said from the food, jewelry, religious pieces and town of Huntington, Greek Fest is a success every year.

“Greek fest is important because it is an artery of Huntington,” Nick Svingos said. “We create a little village in Greece with dancing, a live band, and people get to come and enjoy a little bit of Greece for three days right here in Huntington. Greek Fest is all about the food, the camaraderie, the sense of family, and it’s a massive undertaking by a lot of volunteers. This has been a massive success due to Huntingtonians and students of Marshall that come to support it.”

Rain or shine the Greek Fest will happen, and entry is free. Gyros, Greek dinners, pastries, coffees and wines will be for sale. The dancing will be Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. Nick Svingos said to come early because many items sell out quickly before the weekend is over.

Lillie Bodie can be contacted at