Festival brings Greek food and culture to Bakersfield

Carla Chacon



A light, chilly breeze swirled the savory aromas of Greek food into the air, tempting the senses for a taste.

St. George Greek Orthodox Church held its annual Greek Food Festival this weekend. People from all backgrounds stopped by Hellenic Park for the three-day festival to partake in the celebration of Greek culture.

“The festival is a great way to show our culture through dances and authentic food,” said Andrea Strategos, 16, “It is a great representation of our Greek culture.”

Strategos is part of the church’s dance group. The group, divided into three subgroups, performed various Greek dances that showcased the liveliness of the Greek culture.

The audience clapped along while the dancers stepped and hopped to the live music of Greek band, Synthesi.

Anthony Bercerra, 22, is a business administration major at CSU Bakersfield, but when he is not at school, he helps direct the church’s dance group.

“This is my second year directing. I teach the younger kids, ranging from ages 7 to 10. I help them with the dances,” said Bercerra.

A roaring applause dismissed the dancers, leaving the dance floor open. While some people welcomed the invitation and stepped to the eastern sounds of the band, most sat under the shade, delving into various Greek dishes, from the tzatziki sauce, dripping out of the gyro sandwiches onto the yellow wrapping paper to the honey of the Loukoumades sticking to napkins.

Besides the food and dancing, a tour of St. George was open to the public. Rev. Joseph Chaffee described the history of the Orthodox Christian faith and how it found a place here in Bakersfield.

He explained how the Orthodox faith emerged in Bakersfield in the 1900s when immigrants arrived to build railroads. The first church was built in 1922 and when it was outgrown 20 years later, St. George was built.

During the tour, Chaffee said, “St. John said we should love one another.”

That is what the parish hopes to share with the public: a love for culture and community.

“Everyone is happy, having a good time,” said Nolan Cooper, 18, “People are enjoying themselves, being with their family. The spirit most of all is my favorite part of the festival.”

While the festival showcases Greek culture, the proceeds go to the church which then distributes it back into the community.

“We use some of the money to improve parts of the church.” said Bercerra “Last year we used some money to fix the A/C, but most of the money is donated to charities.”