Greek Food Festival – Still Going Strong After 30 Years

Little Rock has no shortage of food festivals. From ethnic festivals like the Turkish and Jewish food festivals, to the general food truck gatherings like Main Street food festival. Most are packed into the spring time, it feels like you can find something to do almost every weekend in the city between April and June. The one we try to make every year is the Greek Food Festival at the Greek Orthodox Church on Napa Valley.
The Greek Food Festival organizers invited us out (we were going anyway) to try some of their new items on the menu for this year. Gone this year are some of the Indian food items that we enjoyed last year. Most of the old favorites return, including an excellent falafel that is cooked better than most Greek/Mediterranean restaurants in town.
First off we sampled the two new pizza options, the Armenian pizza and Greek pizza. Both pizzas are set on a flat, lightly baked pita. The Armenian is a blend of meat, onions, and parsley while the Greek is feta, onions, tomatoes, with a touch of olive oil. On the surface the Armenian looks like the clear winner, however after trying the new dishes (plus all the old dishes from years past) the Greek pizza may very well be the best dish at the whole festival.
The other new savory dish this year is the Soutzoukakia (they should give you a free meal if you can pronounce that correctly the first time). This is a greek meatball cooked in a tomato wine sauce and served on a bed of rice.
New on the pastries side is a kataifi. This is a log of nuts and honey surrounded by shredded filo and drizzled with more honey for good measure. The taste is very similar to a baklava, but does introduce a texture that is much different from the traditional baklava.
Speaking of baklava, the best dessert at the festival is probably the least known. Skip the market hall and head over to the kid’s corner booth. Along side the kid’s hot dogs they make an item called Sundae in Athens. This is a vanilla ice cream topped with crumbled baklava and it is fantastic.
The numbers for this 30-year-old festival are impressive. Each year volunteers begin food preparations up to 6 months in advance. During the festival’s 30 years they have prepared 22,500 lbs of lamb, 67,500 lbs of gyro meat, and 2.3 million pieces of baklava to name a few. The most important work number from the festival is the money raised for over 34 Arkansas based charities. In 30 years the festival has managed to raise $1.3 million to support the charities.
The Greek Food Fest runs Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 pm, and Sunday 11-3. For full details check out our food calendar event.

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