The ancient Greeks knew how to throw a party, and the modern day members of the Greek Orthodox faith keep that tradition alive with the 24th Annual Myrtle Beach Greek Festival.
Held on the grounds of the St. John's Greek Orthodox Church, at the corner of Highway 17 Bypass and 33rd Avenue North near Broadway at the Beach, the Greek Festival has grown into a huge community event. Thousands are expected to attend the four-day fundraiser filled with fantastic food and drink, fine arts and crafts vendors, and fun for the whole family.
Scheduled rain or shine for Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 24-27, the Greek Festival is both an indoor and outdoor event. With the mild autumn weather, most of the activities are set up on the spacious lawn area surrounding the church, such as food stations and vendor booths. But tours of the scenic church are available, and a gift shop and coffee room are also located indoors. No matter which you prefer, both are worth the $1 admission charge.
The outdoor area includes a stage area and dance floor where live music of all genres is played for the enthusiastic crowds. Of course, the lineup includes authentic Greek music and dances, performed by local bands and dance troops. Visitors are welcome to join in the fun and learn some of the traditional Greek dance steps, and the dance floor also sees patrons boogie to their own beat when more contemporary acts take a turn on the main stage.
The biggest draw may be the delicious Greek cuisine that is prepared on site and served to hungry guests who are lured in by the aromatic flavors drifting through the air. Authentic Greek gyros are the most popular choice since the hand-held treats are easy and tasty to eat, but a large seating area of picnic tables and chairs prompt some to try a sit-down meal like the roasted lamb, Greek salad, Spanakopita and Moussaka. Older guests can wash it all down with wine or beer, both Greek and domestic, or soft drinks or water for the kids.
There are also plenty of things to do for the little ones, who have their own designated play area outside the church. Inflatable attractions, playground equipment, fun and games and arts and crafts activities are available for children to burn off a little energy. Other events like face-painting and balloon animals will be held throughout the festival. Kids also take part in cake walks, dance lessons and sing-alongs, and other family friendly fun. Children ages 10 and under are admitted free. Carry-out food orders can be placed and picked up curb side by calling ahead at 843-448-3773.
In case of rain, many flock to the fellowship hall to the coffee shop, gift store and more vendors. Special drawings and a raffle sale are among the events scheduled, with donated items from sponsors and church members up for grabs. Visitors can also take part in a tour of the church, which has a unique architectural design modeled after early Greek churches. Information and lectures about the Greek Orthodox Church's history, rituals and iconography are available to those interested in learning more about the Christian faith that dates back to the Byzantine Empire. A special service will be held the final day of the festival.
The Myrtle Beach Greek Festival opens Thursday, Sept. 24, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., followed by later hours from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Following Sunday services, the event holds its closing day from noon to 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.stjohn-mb.org/festival/