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Big fat Greek festival happening this weekend

BY HEIDI ULRICHSEN heidi@northernlife.ca Nick Koutsoukis wants all Sudburians to get out and have a big fat Greek time this weekend. The 14th annual Greek Festival is taking place once again at the Hellenic Centre on 486 Ester Rd.
BY HEIDI ULRICHSEN

Nick Koutsoukis wants all Sudburians to get out and have a big fat Greek time this weekend.

The 14th annual Greek Festival is taking place once again at the Hellenic Centre on 486 Ester Rd.

The doors are open from 4 to11 pm on Friday, 11 am to1 am on Saturday and 11 am to 8 pm on Sunday. The event will feature traditional Greek fare, music and dancing. Admission is free.

?We want to bond with people. Greeks, they love food, dancing friends and socializing...We are in the right city to do this. Sudbury is a multicultural city in my eyes. The Greek culture is a happy culture. We want to expose our culture to other people,? says Koutsoukis.

The Hellenic Centre president says Sudbury's 400-strong Greek community uses the festival as a fundraiser to pay for the expenses of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and to run their children's Greek language school.

Koutsoukis says he's looking forward to eating the festival food, especially moussaka. Moussaka is a kind of Greek shepherd's pie made with fried eggplant, delicately spiced minced lamb and rich cheese sauce.

?It's like the national anthem of Greece,? he says.

Souvlaki, gyros, baklava, roasted potatoes, rice, salad and pasta are also being served up to the 5,000 Sudburians expected to attend the event.

?Gyros is a lamb mincemeat which cooks in an upright spit. We slice the meat, and we put it on a pita bread. People will be able to watch the gyros and souvlaki being cooked because we do it on barbecues outside,? he says.

Once participants have eaten their fill of home-cooked Greek food, they can take in the rich sounds of the Toronto-based bozouki band Omega.

?Bazouki is a particular type of instrument that is around Mediterrainia and especially in Greece. It's a smaller guitar, but the back is not flat, it's round. It gives a distinct music that has a beat. It's very popular,? he says.

There will also be plenty of dancing. Ottawa's Odyssey dance troupe and a group of Sudbury youngsters will be performing Greek dances. They'll be wearing brightly-coloured traditional costumes.

?This group that is coming from Ottawa, they are going to dance dances from Northern Greece, the islands and the Peloponnese. Every region, they have their own particular dances. We have dances that people alone can dance, or people in a circle can dance,? says Koutsoukis.

?You must have seen Zorba the Greek. The philosophy of Zorba was to dance your problems away. It's the philosophy of turning something negative into positive and then multiplying the positive.?

For more information about the festival, phone 522-7871.