On Thursday, May 29, 2014, at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral on 30 Malvern Avenue, Richmond, Virginia, the 39th annual Richmond Greek Festival kicked off and ran through Sunday, June 1, 2014. The festival is always held the weekend after Memorial Day. There were four days of delicious Greek foods, pastries, Greek wines, dancing, shopping and the Cathedral Choir concert.
At festivals like this there are always a ton of people, so parking is hard to get and I end up walking a great distance just to get to the event. Not this time! There was free parking at the church and along Grove Avenue and all the side streets. I was thrilled to find a parking spot RIGHT in front of the church! It was a miracle to say the least.
I went to the festival on opening day because it was drizzling rain so I knew there would be less people. I also wanted to hear the choir sing and that took place on Thursday evening.
As soon as we walked through the entrance of the festival there was food, food and more food under big white tents with blue and white flags. The smell wafting through the air was quite tantalizing.
Next stop was to watch the Greek Dancers. Traditional Greek dancing is usually a social function that brings the community together during specific times and occasions of the year. Because there are so many different regions with their own traditions, there are over four thousand Greek dances. Wow!
Another highlight of the Richmond Greek Festival are all the different items for sale such as jewelry, art, wine and clothing.
The wood carvings were quite beautiful too.
Then there were the intricately designed purses loaded with beads, sequins and every color.
The baklava smelled divine and there were tables of it beckoning everyone to stop and consume far more than the stomach can hold at one time!
At 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, the Cathedral Choir put on a concert that I thoroughly enjoyed. The sanctuary was pretty and had big beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
All the decorative features of the cathedral were very ornate and quite intricate.
For me the highlight was listening to the Cathedral Choir sing. Their voices were very soothing and blended perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them sing. The program was titled, “The Sounds of Byzantium” and read:
Like candles, incense, and visual images, the ancient hymns of the Orthodox faith convey the faithful into a spiritual realm where heaven and earth are mystically united. The ethereal qualities of these exalted melodies continue to inspire with their austere beauty, even when subjected to harmonization (which began in the nineteenth century). Yet, some Byzantine modal formulas make Western harmonization difficult, if not impossible. Therefore, much of the church’s music remains distinctly Byzantine, often a melody supported by a drone (ison”).
Tonight’s program features hymns of the Orthodox Church Feast Day Celebrations.
Since I don’t know the names of all the people shown in my photo of part of the choir, I’m just going to list the names of everyone in the Cathedral Choir: Vivian Bacalis, Connie Chavez, Nikitas Conrad, Heidi Derdevanis, Thomas Hanson, Jackie Harmon, Wayne Hill, Maria Keritsis, Loretta Kirk, John Kontopanos, Cindy Kranis, Elaine Mandaleris-Preddy, Jane McAllister, Susan Prousalis, Finnie Theofunos, Daphne Tsimpris, Vange Varthalamis, Taylor Hawkins and Emma Georges.
This was the first year that I attended the Richmond Greek Festival and I’m already looking forward to going next year!