Missing the Greek Festival 2020

It felt strange not doing my annual Mother’s Day shows at Texture and Either Ore Jewelers Strawbridge in Virginia this year.  I was sad to miss my Birthday show in Okracoke, NC at Down Creek Art Gallery however my greatest heartbreak was the absence of the Greek Festival that would have been this week May 14-17th.

My booth space for the last 19 years was next to the pastry line.  We would enjoy a Baclava for breakfast with a hot, gritty Greek coffee.   Unless you grew up with a Yaya that made them, it was a struggle to pronounce most of the names of deserts like kourabiedes and galaktoboureko.  We giggled when someone ordered the chocolate Kok, a cream filled pastry.

The cast of characters at the show was the biggest treat.  There was Alex the gold dealer, who had been doing the show probably before I was born but wasn’t afraid to flirt.  There was always a flurry around the gorgeous olive oil brothers, we would get in line to sample the oils and just stare.  My favorite was Nino Capone from Italy who painted porcelain flowers at a shop in Bush Gardens since I was a little girl.  He always lectured my boyfriend that I should break up with him if he didn’t take me to Italy.  There was the worldly Faberge egg dealer, the sweet toy couple, the Greek coffee lady, and that blonde lady from Florida who sold silver jewelry,  I never understood why she was even there.

 I don’t miss the loud repetitive music much or the big Greek painting vendor who would fight with me over my space.  I would come in early to make sure his paintings weren’t hanging in my booth.  We would scream at each other and then he would send over Ouzo.  I had to explain to my non Greek friends that it was normal, Greeks love drama and we were like a family at the show.

Calories don’t count at Greekfest, it’s once a year for me and I always said, “No” to nothing: Sticky Greek donuts, gyros, calamari, spanakopita, copious amounts of Greek wine, I even tried the chocolate Kok.  What happens at the Greekfest stays at Greekfest! 

 In lieu of the festival, I invite you into my Kitchen this Sunday, May 17th to make my favorite Greek appetizer... Spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese filled triangles).  I will go live at 4pm Costa Rican time, 6pm eastern standard to cook and celebrate my Greek heritage.   It would make my Mom and Yaya proud if you would join me with some Greek wine or a shot of Ouzo (or your favorite mock-tail for the non drinkers). I may even break some dishes.  OPA!!!

I would love to hear your favorite Greek Festival story too!  

 Shopping list:

Phylo dough

Several Cookie sheets

A couple sticks of Salted butter

Pastry Brush to spread butter


Olive oil

1/2 cup Chopped onions

2 cups or more Chopped spinach-

(I can only get fresh here but frozen packs work best, de thaw and drain)

Dash of salt

Dash of pepper

1 Egg

1/2 pound Feta cheese

 For cheese filled:

1/2 pound feta

1/4 pound parmigiana

1/2 cup cottage cheese

1 egg

Dash of pepper


Yaya and I at the Greek Festival In Norfolk, VA. 


  • Kristy Colli

    Seeing Yaya brought a tear to my eye. Miss you Sister.

  • Felice Bond

    Oh, my goodness, Jennifer! You are such a character. Wonder where those personality traits came from? I was just talking about you yesterday!
    I will try to join you and would love to learn how to make your recipe.
    You go, girl! Just love you so much and really happy neither you nor Lindsey ever had to seriously beg on a street corner. LOL!!!

  • Ruth Ann Steenburgh

    Love your newsletters.
    Miss working with you at the Virginia Aquarium, I retired 9 years ago!
    Sounds like you’re still doing great and I will always love your jewelry ❤️

  • Marie Roosendaal

    A beautiful tribute to your mother, to YAYA and to the Greek Festival. You will be missed!

  • Ellen Stone

    Jen, I can’t wait to bite into those yummy Spanakopita’s! My first Greek family experience was with my girlfriends Gladys and Michael Datch’s ( his last name was changed when his family arrived in this country) Summer Party for his big family in Annapolis. Some of the women dressed in their finest stylized outfits! It so reminded me of my own Extended Italian Family. Italians and Greeks have similar cultural traditions that typically require religious traditions. Everyone speaking loud and endless food and love for everyone who joined the party whether you were just a friend or part of the family! Fun memories!

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