Why is it that every major city seems to have an annual Greek Festival? Is it the beautiful and colorfully scarved dancers? The cool-sounding surnames? Or is it simply the food? Whatever the reason, Greek festivals draw throngs of visitors every year, and are as familiar and ingrained as state fairs. Greek history in Utah is only about 100 years old, with the 1900 census counting only 3 Greeks in the entire state. With rapid expansion and the need for workers, Greek immigrants soon flocked to the area, and by 1904 they numbered in the thousands. In 1905, they built the Holy Trinity Church of Salt Lake City. Utah’s Greek immigrants were relatively quick to organize a celebration for the community. In 1935, the Salt Lake City Greek Festival was born as a one-day bazaar in the basement of the church. As years passed and the community grew larger, the church was elevated to a cathedral by the Archbishop Iakovos and the festival exploded in popularity.
Today, Salt Lake City’s Greek Festival has expanded from one to four days, attracts more than 50,000 visitors a year, and includes dancing, singing, cooking demonstrations and a 5K/10K run. Of course, what would a Greek Festival be without the food? You can find traditional fare like gyros and baklava, or be more adventurous and go for the dolmathes and kefthethes. However you choose to spend your time, you’ll surely enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and camaraderie that has made this festival such an enduring tradition. Opa!
Salt Lake City Greek Festival @ Holy Trinity Church, 279 S. 300 West, Sept 10-13, SaltLakeGreekFestival.com