VALLEJO — Food was the main draw at the 36th annual Greek Festival Saturday, and there was enough to go around.
As the band Mediterranean Soul graced the stage, visitors to Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church filled their plates at the hot buffet and collected food from the fryer.
Ken and Barbara Deffendall, of Suisun City, returned to the festival this year and ate plenty.
Barbara Deffendall had some spanakopita with a salad, and Ken had the chicken souvlaki, among other dishes. Both capped their meals with a dessert of baklava.
“I don’t have to eat for the rest of the day,” Ken Deffendall said. ” . . . It’s like home-cooking.”
The festival’s array of food was made possible by a group of church members.
The women in the kitchen prepared for months, said Bob Vogt, board president. It took a “full church effort.”
And diners had plenty of options.
The hot buffet featured several main courses, including a leg of lamb dinner with green beans, rice pilaf and bread, as well as pastitso – a layered macaroni dish with meat and topped with bechamel sauce. There were also authentic appetizers and side dishes, including dolmathes – grape leaves stuffed with rice – and yee tandes, or butter beans. A dessert booth provided koulourakia by the dozen, karidopita and, of course, baklava.
A tent just outside the church building provided shade for festivalgoers as they sat around tables with friends and family.
“It’s kind of a little bit of Greece,” said dancer Evangelia Bouzos, 17, who spent time on the Greek island of Cephalonia. The Vacaville resident said the festival reminded her of life on the plaza, where Greeks would eat, drink and smoke.
Parishioner Paul Warfield, a volunteer at the festival gate, estimated 600 to 700 people had showed up by Saturday afternoon. He said it could double by the day’s end.
Vogt, who helped organize the event, was pleased with the turnout.
“It’s been very crowded, which is wonderful,” said Vogt. “We set up more tables this year.”
The Greek Festival continues from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday and also features dance exhibitions and church tours. Proceeds benefit the church, which is located at 1224 Alabama St. in Vallejo.
Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.