Local Greeks kick off festival season

By Michelle Costanza

May 30, 2013 Updated May 30, 2013 at 11:54 PM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Greek Festival kicked off Thursday in Vestal, signaling the start of festival season in the Twin Tiers.

Ringing in the hot weather and drawing crowds, the event, in its 40th year, urges visitors to "be Greek for a day."

Held by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, the festival is expected to draw between 7,000 and 8,000 people over the weekend.

Greek music and Hellenic dancers will be on hand throughout the festival for entertainment, and homemade Greek pastries and a gift booth will be set up for patrons, selling authentic jewelry and t-shirts.

Aside from entertainment, volunteers are firing up grills and ovens to whip up the freshest, tastiest Grecian food you can find west of Athens.

"Outside on the grill we have gyro, pita bread, souvlaki, chicken souvlaki, locaniko - a Greek sausage with orange peel, it's very, very flavorful - and then we have the yokomadis, the honey puffs," said Festival Chairman Steve Anastos.

A special lamb dinner will be served on Sunday to wrap up the festival.

"This is an annual thing that you always come to. Everything about it. It's the ambiance, being outside, it's the food, the people, it's always a good time. You can't beat it," said Bob Phelan of Binghamton, between bites of a gyro.

The festival will continue through the weekend from noon to 10 p.m., and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

A 50/50 raffle and silent auction will be held, with winners announced on Sunday.

Shuttle buses will be running from the NYSEG parking lot during event hours.