CLEARWATER — Koulourakia, loukoumades and baklava — to non-Greeks, these names are a mouthful. At the Clearwater Greek Festival, everyone can get a taste of the tongue-twisting desserts.
Usually held in February, this marks the first year of the festival's permanent move to October to dodge winter's unpredictable weather. Chairman John Pantelis said despite the change, he knows the festival will have something to offer the 15,000 to 25,000 who attend.
Twelve guided church tours will be available, a live band will entertain and guests can attend nine different cooking demonstrations to gather recipes and tips for making classic Greek dishes. Visitors can sample Greek salads, gyros, Greek fries and spanakopita, the Greek spinach pie.
Pantelis said the event, a major fundraiser for Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, requires the collaboration of hundreds of adults and children, and six to seven months planning. Guests can expect crowds and maybe a few long lines.
For 19-year-old church member George Skopis, that means more people he can educate.
"I want people to know there's more to Greek culture than 'Opa' and flaming cheese," Skopis said. "It's very complex with traditions."
Skopis has been attending the festival for as long as he can remember. For seven years, he has performed with the Hellas Dancers. The group of young people from elementary school to college age will perform all three days.
Skopis said when the group begins to dance, guests stop to watch. He's proud to perform because he often sees a disconnect between his generation and tradition, and traditions in the festival are the same as they were 1,000 years ago.