St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church hosts 10th annual event

a face painter paints at Med Fest

Discover the Mediterranean in Southeast Texas with one of the most anticipated yearly events of the spring with the annual St. Michael Mediterranean Festival. St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church (690 N. 15th St) in Beaumont will be the center of all activities with traditional cuisine from Greece and other Mediterranean countries from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. along with a variety of unique ethnic goods on sale at the bazaar and diverse entertainment. Admission to the festival is free and will take place rain or shine.

“We are thrilled to be in the 10th year of hosting this festival,” said Med Fest organizer Georgia Vasilakis, a first-generation Greek-American and a member of St. Michael. “The opportunity to showcase our culture and it be celebrated by people all over the city, is a true testament to the Southeast Texas community. Without their support, the Mediterranean Festival would not be as successful as it is today.”

Med Fest will feature delicious authentic food including savory gyros, pastichio (baked pasta dish including ground beef and béchamel sauce), spanakopita (fillo dough filled with spinach and cheese), tiropita, Greek salad, Greek and Middle-Eastern grape leaves, awaamat (donut holes) served with a simple sugar syrup, falafel (deep fried patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans), hummos, tabouli, and beef and chicken kabobs.

Mediterranean goodies available are Greek baklava, melomacarona (honey-dipped cookies), kourambiedes (shortbread cookies), amygdalota (Greek almond paste cookies) and Athenian mud pie. The traditional baklava ice cream will also be sold outside.

The Pastry Shop, inside the church hall, which is maintained by the Ladies Altar Society, will have an assortment of pastries including baklawa (fillo dough filled with nuts and sweetened with attar syrup) gribee (butter cookies), koulourakia (Greek cookies, which are great for dipping in coffee) and maamoul cookies (made with dates, pistachios or nuts).

Inside the church hall, attendees can enjoy a traditional St. Michael’s dinner, also known as the Mediterranean Plate that was first served to Beaumont in 1909. The dinner is kibbee (extra lean beef and cracked wheat stuffed with sautéed meat, onions and pine nuts), cabbage rolls (meat, rice and spices rolled in cabbage leaves and cooked with lemon), green beans and a slice of pita bread.

Food tells a story in a universal language, and what better time to take part in the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau’s new culinary narrative — #EATBMT. 

“This is a hashtag campaign done on Instagram and Facebook that allows visitors to see all the good food in Beaumont,” said Mallory Cross, communications specialist for the Beaumont CVB. According to the CVB, marketing research has proved that incorporating the use of hashtags along with social media posts are key elements that should not be underestimated.

So those who dine in Beaumont are encouraged to take a photo of their dish, upload it to Instagram and/or Facebook, check-in where you are dining, and tag it with #EATBMT.

“The Mediterranean Festival is a perfect opportunity to show that Beaumont has a diverse amount of food, as well as great events,” said Cross. “The Beaumont CVB will be in attendance at Med Fest, encouraging more people to participate in the #EATBMT campaign.”

Once you are done eating, or before, visit the Mediterranean Bazaar for a unique shopping experience. Purchase ethnic groceries, spices, china, fabric, tablecloths, cookware, gift items, and a variety of coffees and teas plus clothing and collectibles.

Children of all ages will enjoy Larry the Camel, a petting zoo, bungee jump, face painting, arts and crafts, arock wall and two shows by Sonny “The Birdman” and his feathered friends.

Alex Kalos with the Golden Greek will perform on the Festival stage while George Haddad with the Middle Eastern Heritage band performing inside the church hall. The Olympian Dancers will be showcase traditional Greek dances from various islands and the Kolna Wahad Dance Troupe will be performing traditional Middle Eastern Dances. The Al-Juthoor Dabke Group along with Kolna Wahad will lead “Teach me How to Dabke.”

Church tours will be held to explore the Orthodox church, offering a look into the architecture and faith.

New this year is a raffle for a Mediterranean cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise that stops in Kotor, Montenegro-Corfu, Athens, Mykonos and Argostolti. The trip includes round trip airfare from Houston to Venice, Italy. The cruise arrangement is based on an ocean-view cabin sailing in October. Travel can be anytime from May 6, 2018 to May 1, 2019. Raffle tickets are $25 each and can be purchased by e-mail stmichaelmedfest [at] gmail [dot] com or at the festival. Winner will be announced at 5 p.m. during the festival, but the winner does not have to be present to win.

Every year, St. Michael supports a non-profit organization in the community. In the past, they have supported Nutrition and Services for Seniors, Anayat House, Gift of Life, CASA of Southeast Texas, as well as Family Services Women’s and Children Shelter.

This year, a donation will be made from the proceeds to benefit The Arc of Greater Beaumont, an organization serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities to grow, develop and live in communities across the nation

Presale tickets for food, pastries, the children’s area or anything for sale can be purchased in advance at Abbie’s Imports (5335 Fannett Rd), parishioners and the St. Michael Church Hall.

Before the gates open on Saturday, May 5, the public is also invited out to a special ribbon cutting at 10:45 a.m. with Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames to celebrate 10 years along with past non-profit organization recipients, city officials, and sponsors.

For more information on the 10th annual Mediterranean Festival, view or call (409) 767-2685.