Mediterranean Festival coming May 6

In case you haven’t learned at past Med Fests, local troupe Al-Juthoor Dabke wil
Larry the Camel and Georgia Vasilakis

The Mediterranean Sea is known for it’s beautiful waters, which connects nearly two-dozen countries and is home to countless islands. Labeled as the “cradle of world civilization,” it covers nearly a million square miles and unifies all those who surround its shoreline. 

For the past eight years, and some 5,000 miles away, the St. Michael Mediterranean Festival in Beaumont has given festivalgoers a taste of Mediterranean without having to leave Southeast Texas. 

One of the most popular events in the spring will take place on Saturday, May 6 at St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church (690 N. 15th St) from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will be the center of all activities with traditional cuisine from Greece and other Mediterranean countries along with a variety of unique ethnic goods on sale at the bazaar and diverse entertainment. Admission to the festival is free. 

“We are excited about bringing our ninth annual Mediterranean Festival to Southeast Texas and filled with gratitude for the support from the community,” said Med Fest organizer Georgia Vasilakis, a first-generation Greek-American born in Galveston and a member of St. Michael. “We are extremely thankful to share our food and culture and look forward to seeing everyone there.”

There will be a wide variety of food booths offering 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 grape leaves, awaamat (donut holes) served with a simple sugar syrup, falafel (deep fried patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans), 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, is maintained by the Ladies Altar Society and 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), arros (savory date-filled cakes), namoura (semolina cake sweetened with attar), touatiyat (bite-sized date cookies) and khubaz (bread). These items can also be purchased a la carte.

A variety of Mediterranean beers and wines will be available for purchase in addition to Miller, Budweiser, Saint Arnold and sparkling wine.

The children’s area is now bigger and includes a petting zoo, face painting, obstacle course, arts and crafts plus goodies such as slushies, cotton candy and pizza.

Sonny the Birdman along with his feathered friends will have three performances at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. 

Kids of all ages will also love the Megatronix video game truck that features seven 4K 60-inch TVs with XBox One, PS4 and Wii gaming consoles. 

The Mediterranean Bazaar has also expanded for a unique shopping experience. Purchase ethnic groceries, spices, china, fabric, table cloths, cookware, , gift items, and a variety of coffees and teas plus large furniture pieces, large wine jugs, French copper pots, clothing and collectibles.

Inside the church hall, attendees can enjoy a traditional St. Michael’s dinner, or the Mediterranean Plate, including 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.

In case you haven’t learned at past Med Fests, local troupe Al-Juthoor Dabke will teach you how to “Dabke.”

Mediterranean music will also fill the air with sounds by “The Greek Band” featuring Tasos Kopoulos and Kostas Milonakis as well as George Haddad.

Those interested in the history behind the church can learn more by attending any of three Discovering Orthodoxy sessions.

Presale tickets for food, pastries, the children’s area or anything for sale can be purchased in advance online at universe.com; “browse events” for St. Michael Med Fest. They can also be purchased at Abbie’s Imports (5335 Fannett Rd) and Chas S. Nacol Jewelry Company (4320 Dowlen Rd). 

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Family Services of Southeast Texas. 

“As a family and kid-friendly event, we are delighted to name Family Services as the recipient of our charitable contribution,” said Vasilakis. “The St. Michael’s Parish loves the community and pleased to help Family Services of Southeast Texas in their mission to strengthen and empower families, individuals and communities through accessible counseling services, shelter services, education and advocacy.”

For more information, view stmichaelmedfest.com; the St. Michael Mediterranean Festival Facebook page; Twitter @StMichMedFest; and Instagram @stmichaelmedfest. 

Whether rain or shine, don’t forget to take a selfie with Larry the Camel. 

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