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Ogden Greek Food Festival coming back, but it’ll be smaller than before

By Tim Vandenack - | Sep 21, 2021

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

From left at the long table, Angeliki Bolos, Maria Soter and James Soderquist prepare dolmathes on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, for the Ogden Greek Food Festival, scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25, 2021, at Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in South Ogden.

SOUTH OGDEN — It’ll be smaller this go-round and there won’t be quite as wide a variety of food.

After a hiatus last year brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, though, the Ogden Greek Food Festival — which has fed thousands in prior incarnations — is returning.

“It’s exciting. It’s not a full menu, but it’s been fun,” said Kim Jones, helping last week with preparation of dolmathes, a hamburger mixture inside grape leaves that’s a Greek food staple.

The food fest is the main fundraiser of the Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church at 674 42nd St. in South Ogden and church members have been preparing food for the past month-and-a-half or so to get ready. The actual event is set for Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day or as long as food remains.

Though the festival is returning, it won’t be like it was pre-pandemic. Notably, food will be takeout only and there will be just three dinner options, no a la carte offerings as in years past. The aim is to limit the amount of time people spend inside the church getting their food given the continuing threat posed by the COVID-19 virus.

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

Doris Greenleigh, right, prepares dolmathes on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, for the Ogden Greek Food Festival, scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25, 2021, at Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in South Ogden.

“We’re not going to be known as a super spreader, hopefully,” said Drew Wilson, co-chair of the food festival. What’s more, only 5,000 meals are being prepared. In years past, the event had served up to 10,000 people.

Nonetheless, church members are as excited as ever about the festival, which started small back in the 1960s as a bake sale and evolved into the massive food fest it’s become. Many of them gathered last Friday to prepare the dolmathes. Other items have already been prepared and are in the church’s freezers, awaiting the festival.

The draw to the event, Wilson said, is the food — authentic and homemade. “It’s so good. Ours is 100% made here, on site,” he said.

But the event also provides a chance to see some of the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church. Traditional dancers will be performing as festival goers await their food.

In years past, some diners would wait in line for up to two hours, with minimal complaints, Wilson said. Depending on how this year’s revamped food fest goes, church members may keep with the format going forward.

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

This photo was taken Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, shows some of the food, frozen for now, that's to be served at the Ogden Greek Food Festival, scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25, 2021, at Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in South Ogden.

The event typically raises around $100,000 and is the main revenue generator for the church.

The three dinner choices will be souvlaki, gyros and vegan dinner options, each coming with sides. There will also be pastry box options.

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