The orzo was cooked and the long tables laid.
In the downstairs kitchen of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, cans of green beans stood waiting for the Arger family, who prepare them every year. Outside, people lined up at the grill for souvlakia and listened to Greek music on the loudspeakers. In the chapel, visitors photographed the stained glass and paintings.
In the hours before the final dinner of the Greek Festival, everything seemed much as it had last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Though there have been changes over the festival’s 73 years – some remember the cabbage rolls from more than a decade ago – the event is about stability for the parishioners who spend weeks preparing for it.
“It’s a testament to the power of tradition,” said the Rev. Stephen Supica.
The festival concluded Saturday night with the final dinner of the three-day event.
MaryLou Delegans, who oversees the work in the kitchen, has been helping with the festival for 61 years. The work begins more than a month before the festival, as volunteers begin preparing the pastries that tend to sell out every year – baklava, diples, melomakarouna and others. During the festival, the days grow long, with the work starting before sunrise and wrapping up after dinner.
“But everybody helps, and everybody’s happy,” Delegans said. “We’re a happy bunch.”
A fundraiser for the parish, the festival also works to introduce people to Greek culture and to the church, Supica said. And it’s a community-building effort for church members.
“People get a chance to get down here and sweat together,” he said.
Under a tent awning beside the church, John Earnest rested and waited for dinner. Earnest, 77, and his friend Bruce Belt, 85, came from Post Falls with a group from their church, Mountain View Bible Church.
“I’ve eaten Greek food and I love it,” Earnest said. “It’s spicy and everything.”
Delegans said that the women and men who work so hard on the dinner don’t do anything special once it’s finally all over.
“We’ll all sit around and visit, you know,” she said. “That’s it.”