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St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church to host Autumn Fest in Sarasota

The annual festival offers a taste of Greece while benefiting charities.


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It's easy to tell the experienced patrons from the rookies at the St. Barbara Philoptochos Society's Autumn Fest.

The rookies are covered with powdered sugar.

Maria Kirlangitis, the vice president of the St. Barbara Philoptochos Society, said some people just don't know the best way to eat kourambiethes. 

Kourabiethes are a Greek shortbread cookie with almonds covered in powdered sugar.

“You have to know how to eat them because there’s a lot of powdered sugar,” Kirlangitis said. “You pick it up, hit it a little bit to get some of the sugar off and then take small bites. You can tell who hasn’t eaten kourambiethes because there’s powdered sugar all over them.”

People will have their chance to try to eat kourabiethes during Autumn Fest on Nov. 18-19 at the St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church. 

Besides kourabiethes, the menu includes Greek specialties such as pastitsio, gyros, lamb shanks, spanakopita, dolmathes and Greek pastries including koulourakia, baklava and galatoboureko.

People will be able to dine at the Father Frank Kirlangitis Community Center next to the church, or they can take food to go. 

Marilyn Blazakis, the president of the St. Barbara Philoptochos Society, Pat Trempelas, the assistant treasurer, and Maria Kirlangitis, the vice president, can't wait to serve Greek foods and pastries at Autumn Fest.
Marilyn Blazakis, the president of the St. Barbara Philoptochos Society, Pat Trempelas, the assistant treasurer, and Maria Kirlangitis, the vice president, can't wait to serve Greek foods and pastries at Autumn Fest.

“It’s the joy of sharing with people in the community our culture, our delicacies and our special treats,” Kirlangitis said. “It’s a beautiful community of people who love each other and care for each other.”

Besides eating, those who attend can shop at Yia Yia’s Attic. 

Proceeds from Autumn Fest will benefit the Hurricane Ian Relief Fund, Tunnel 2 Towers Foundation and Philoptochos charities. 

The money from the Hurricane Ian Relief Fund will help parishioners in St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church’s sister church, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Myers, which has had many people displaced by the hurricane. 

Tunnel 2 Towers Foundation honors military and first responders. 

Marilyn Blazakis, the president of the St. Barbara Philoptochos Society, said spanakopita, tiropita and pans of pastitsio will be sold frozen so people can take them home to have them whenever they want, including during the holidays.

Many of the foods at Autumn Fest are made by parishioners of the church using their own recipes. 

Kirlangitis said the organization has created a cookbook filled with recipes from parishioners. 

Kirlangitis and Blazakis said some of their baking is associated with their faith and culture. 

“When you say Greek food. I don’t want people to associate only with baklava because we have so many varieties,” Kirlangitis said. 

Members of the church have sweet bread on their holy days and they break their fast from meat at Easter with pastitsio and lamb shanks.  

Kirlangitis said in a Greek home, with coffee comes kourambiethes. 

“These are good luck cookies,” she said. “You’re going to see them at our baptisms and weddings.”

Pat Trempelas, an assistant treasurer for St. Barbara Philoptochos Society, said lamb shanks always are a fan favorite at festivals like Autumn Fest. 

Blazakis and Kirlangitis said spanakopita and baklava also are favorites among attendees.

“I find it interesting when people who have come through the years are determined to have certain things,” Kirlangitis said. “They always say, ‘I want this and I want that.’ They know exactly what they want.”

Blazakis said sometimes people can’t decide what they want, so they take one of everything on the menu.

 

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