DAYTONA Seashore — After practically 10 several years as a common at Daytona’s annual Greek Competition, Jack Borg has a professional idea for picking out a dessert from an array of tantalizing menu items.
“Most people today go for the Baklava, but if you definitely know Greek pastries you go for the Galactoboureko,” explained Borg, 80, who created the trek from Palm Coast on Friday for an early lunch at the 44th annual version of the pageant that operates via Sunday at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.
“I do not even actually know how to spell it,” Borg explained of his most loved dessert, “but it is some type of product sandwiched in a slim wafer of dough. It’s delectable.”
At a desk on the outside deck powering the church on the shore of the Halifax River, Borg was accompanied by two buddies who had joined him for a leisurely motorcycle journey from Flagler County for the pageant, an yearly ritual.
“There’s generally far more of us,” Borg reported. “A couple of the other fellas couldn’t make it.”
In addition to dessert, the three pals were amid quite a few in the lunch crowd who also ordered a conventional Greek gyro, a blend of lamb and beef wrapped in pita bread and doused with clean tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce.
Arguably the event’s signature menu product, the cylindrical tubes were being becoming hoisted towards keen mouths at practically every desk, brandished like passports for a cultural tour that does not call for leaving town.
“The gyros that is it,” claimed Jon Marquart, 66, of South Daytona, when asked why he and his wife, DeeDee, return to the competition calendar year soon after yr. “You can’t get a person anyplace in city like this.”
Another beloved item is Loukoumades, fried cinnamon-flavored dough balls that were being likely like sizzling cakes all through Thursday’s lunch hour. At the deep-fryer, John Spirides, 58, was toiling in a booth that he first labored in 1976 at age 13.
“That was when I labored by initially Greek pageant,” claimed Spirides, who has been a church member given that 1965.
“I’m 13 decades outdated and I’m wandering around with this tray of desserts, attempting not to drop them,” he stated. “When I came again with the tray empty a several minutes later on, they had to hurry to make much more of them. They did not know that they would offer so fast.”
For Spirides, earning the dough balls is a nod to background.
“The Greeks commenced generating these in 776 B.C. at one particular of the authentic Olympic video games,” he mentioned. “They were being identified as Golden Dough Tokens. Back then, not everybody could get something like this, so it was a delicacy.”
At Greek Fest, culture complements delicacies
In addition to the food stuff, the competition atmosphere is complemented by genuine live songs played on devices that include things like the Greek bouzouki, an 8-stringed bowl-formed guitar. There also are daily standard dance performances, an array of vendors marketing themed goods and even Greek beer.
“I sense like I’m in Greece, and all I have to do is travel down the Intracoastal Waterway from Palm Coast,” stated Susan Horvath, an additional pageant customer from Flagler County. “How else could you sense, with all the songs and the food?”
As the band performed, Horvath, a dance instructor, shut her eyes and executed specific common ways in time to the music.
”When I’m not dancing, I like to wander out on the pier and see the dolphin swimming,” she claimed. “There are so quite a few distinct things that I enjoy about this event.”
Following remaining constrained to a travel-through festival owing to COVID constraints in 2020, this year’s gathering signifies a welcome return to its usual mix of food stuff, fellowship and audio, explained Father Joseph Samaan, head of St. Demetrios Church.
Competition followers are rejoicing, he claimed.
“I are unable to convey to you how quite a few people today have occur up to tell us, ‘Thank you for building it come about,’” Samaan stated. “They tell us, ‘We have missed it so significantly.’”
The festival’s enduring recognition stems from its nurturing blend of cuisine and lifestyle, Samaan explained.
“The Greek Pageant is a person of the ways for our church to make a connection with the local community,” he stated. “It’s healing by way of songs healing by means of foods healing through prayers. The church is beautifully painted with icons, so that is healing as a result of artwork.
“All these therapeutic features are element of the competition,” he said. “We are creatures of the neighborhood, not loners. Just currently being with each other, in by itself, is a therapeutic component. This is what we like to give to the neighborhood.”
If you go
WHAT: 44th Annual Greek Competition, hosted by St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church
WHEN: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday
Where: St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 129 N. Halifax Ave., Daytona Seaside
Cost: Free admission