Organizers of the Fresno Greek Fest planned for more people and more hungry bellies this year, but they were caught off guard when a packed crowd on the second day of festivities swallowed up a dessert and then some meat.
A 1:45 a.m. meeting was called on Sunday to run through the inventory, said festival chairman Peter Vallis.
Gone by Saturday — the second of the three-day 53rd annual Greek Fest — were the popular baklava dessert, the wine, chicken and 600 pounds of haloumi, a special cheese imported from Cyprus that grills and fries well.
"We've gone through so much food I can't even cite the statistics," Vallis said while grilling meat for gyros Sunday afternoon.
The only things the planning committee couldn't restock for Sunday were the baklava, which is handmade by church members and volunteers days before the festival, and the haloumi.
"We may have a limited menu but we'll make it through the day," Vallis said.
Attendance at this year's event held at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in central Fresno was expected to bypass the estimated 25,000 people that the festival typically attracts every year.
On Sunday, a steady stream of people lined up for lamb and Greek fries, or sat under large tents to watch traditional Greek dancing.
Althea Asaro and her family from Madera and Los Banos joined the dancers to learn a few steps.
"We try to come every year," said Asaro, who had a coin scarf wrapped around her waist. "We love the food and dancing."
The group showed up when the gates opened at 11 a.m. and by 2 p.m. had already eaten twice. The food tent didn't have the fries ready the first time around, Asaro said.
Zoei Salazar,13, of Fresno and a small group of friends from the church donned Greek costumes to perform four traditional dances.
The group likes to show "that we still celebrate Greek culture and every day it's part of our lives," Salazar said.
Fresno resident Dolores Cauble attended the festival for the first time on a packed Saturday night and returned Sunday afternoon with her neighbor for more food and fun.
After picking up some pork and rice pilaf and what little pastries were left, Cauble and her neighbor sat under the main tent to enjoy a Greek salad.
While many people shy away from the festival because of the heat and the crowds, Cauble said she loved it. Every cultural group should have a festival like this to share their food and music with others, she said.
"I'll be the first one next year at the gate," Cauble said. "It's really nice. I really enjoyed it. I feel like getting up and dancing."
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