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Dining Out: Focus on fresh food at Greek Festival

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If you have a craving for authentic Greek food and a love of festivals, the two come together this weekend at the Opa! Greek Festival in Flemington, N.J.

Favorite Greek dishes including souvlaki, gyro sandwiches, roasted lamb shank, pastitsio, spanakopita and pastries will be available at the event at St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church. A bar features Greek wine, beer and ouzo.

Greek food is known for its reliance on fresh ingredients. Festivalgoers can experience the focus on vegetables and lean meats that make it simple, colorful, flavorful and nutritious.

At the festival diners can opt for indoor seating or find a place to eat in the outdoor dining tent. Foods are prepared by former and professional chefs who prepare traditional Greek recipes that have been handed down through families for generations.

The chefs use the church’s professional ovens as well as on an outdoor grill, said Diana Grina, festival chair.

This is the church’s 15th festival; attendance has grown yearly and is expected to draw up to 4,000 visitors this weekend.

Visitors to the festival come from as far as New York and Maryland, Grina said, adding that “some visit all of the local Greek festivals.”

After visitors dine they will have the opportunity to enjoy Greek music and dancing and stop in at the vendor fair to shop for products ranging from jewelry to home décor.

“The event is a real treat for families as the summer comes to an end,” said Grina. “Families enjoy the food, folk dancing, shopping, and the Fun Zone featuring carnival games, prizes, pony rides, and inflatables.”

Tours of the church also are available during the festival. The church interior features a new intricately carved wood altar icon screen and additional iconography. “I look forward to explaining the significance of the frescoes framing the church and the dome,” said the Rev. Economos Anastasios Kousoulas.

The festival is a major fundraiser for the church, which follows the Greek Orthodox tradition of using festivals to raise funds to support local, regional and national charities. Those supported by the Opa festival include the Flemington-Raritan First Aid and Rescue Squad, HMC Breast Cancer Foundation, Safe in Hunterdon, Hunterdon Healthcare Foundation, Embrace Kids Foundation and Make-a-Wish New Jersey.

Parking for the festival is free. A suggested donation of $2 can be made at the gate. The festival is held from 5 to 10 p.m. Fri. Sept. 6; noon to 10 p.m. Sat., Sep. 7; and noon to 7 p.m. Sun., Sept. 8. It will be held rain or shine.


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