Sample Baklava at Yiasou Greek Festival.



Published:

Irene Politis (left), president of the society that makes the Greek Festival pastries, is joined by John Tsumas, and another member of the society, Georgia Andrews.

Though many of his adult years have been spent behind the scenes of Yiasou! Greek Festival, John Tsumas says his affiliation goes back even further. “I’m 40 years old,” Tsumas says, “which means I’ve been with this church for 40 years and the festival for 36 years.”

Tsumas, a Charlotte native, is president of the parish council at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the church behind one of the city’s biggest annual cultural events. His duties with the festival include aiding production of meals and desserts. From September 4 through 7, tens of thousands of visitors will enjoy the live entertainment, games, vendors, and fresh food at Greek Fest. And even though you can get items like baklava in several places around town, it doesn’t get more handmade than the hours-long baking sessions and preparation from church volunteers. “A group of many mothers and grandmothers are really the basis for everything happening,” Tsumas says. “They have it down to a science.”

The festival began in 1978 and has grown into one of the premier late-summer events in Charlotte. Tsumas estimates about 50,000 come through the gates each year, with hundreds of volunteers helping make this a must-do event in the city.

“We’ve been a part of Charlotte for a long time,” Tsumas said, adding that while Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral has been at the current location for 60 years, the church has been around for more than 90 years. “The goal is to offer the culture of our community so that people learn more about the church and the Greek tradition.”
The festival tends to be a busy time for Tsumas, but he makes time to enjoy the food—and watch some traditional Greek dancing sessions that include his children, ages 3 and 6. As a child, he too would take part in festival activities. Even back then, Tsumas says, it was a “busy festival, but not at all like it is today.” He notes that the menu hasn’t changed much over the years; visitors can expect the same quality in traditional dishes and desserts every time they stop by.

As for the baklava? “You can’t really beat it,” Tsumas says. “Everything is as fresh as it was in my mom’s kitchen.” —A.S.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Restaurants Open on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

Bug City: Spectrum Center Ranks Last For Food Safety

Charlotte has two of the three worst active pro sports venues for food safety, according to a report Thursday by the ESPN investigative series ‘Outside the Lines.’

What a New S.C. Facility Might Mean for Panthers’ Charlotte Future

A South Carolina newspaper reported Wednesday that the Carolina Panthers, as rumored, are exploring the possibility of a new practice complex in South Carolina. Is this an opening gambit in a chess game over public funding for stadium improvements?

3 Pop-up Markets to Shop for Last-Minute Gifts This Weekend

Peruse these pop-ups for unique and Charlotte-centric gifts.

We invite your responses and discussion. Please refrain from personal attacks, profanity, commercial promotion, or non sequiturs.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More >> Partner Content

5 Must-Do Holiday Events in Charlotte This Year

In partnership with Charlotte Center City Partners

5 Genius Tips to Save Money on Winter Energy Costs

In partnership with Ventmate.

Why a Mint Museum Membership Isn't What You Think

In partnership with The Mint Museum

Sign Up for our E-Newsletters

Stay in-the-know on restaurant openings, things to do, and all things Charlotte with our handy newsletters. SIGN UP HERE

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags