(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Erie’s annual festival celebrating Greek culture is returning this weekend.
Panegyri, organized and hosted by Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, will be held 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, July 8, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 9. Assumption Greek Orthodox Church is located at 4376 West Lake Road in Erie.
This year will mark the event’s 34th year at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church.
“We started this 34 years ago — none of us thought we could pull it off, but we managed to pull it off,” said Jerome Simon, president of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. “We have hundreds of volunteers made up of parishioners and non-parishioners who are willing to help. That’s a neat thing, that people just step up and ask, ‘How do we help?'”
The volunteers and organizers plan the event throughout the year, but the Ladies Society (Philoptochos) does most of the preparation throughout the week leading up to the first day. On Tuesday, July 5, Simon said he was at the church where tents already were going up.
The event is a celebration of Greek culture focusing on food and dancing.
“The dancers are all from our small community. It adds up to become what the Greeks call kefi — part of the atmostphere,” Simon said. “I love the lamb shank dinner. That’s my favorite.”
This year, the event will be held over two days. For the past couple of years, the event has been stymied by COVID-19 pandemic concerns and restrictions. That meant “drive through” meals. Now, the festival is back in full swing and in-person, but Simon said had decided to keep the event to only two days to allow them to ease back into it.
“Like everybody else, it’s just nice to get back to normal. We’re so excited to be able to put this on for the Erie community,” Simon said. “Whenever someone asks me, I always say ‘Bring an appetite, and that’s the only thing you need to bring.'”
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The event has free parking and free admission.