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Greek Festival in Myrtle Beach

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The Greeks have a word for “cheers,” and Southerners have a word for “everybody.”

The resulting phrase – “Yasou Y'all” – won't be heard anywhere around the Greek isles, but it has become a commonly used term on the Grand Strand the last week of September.

The 24th annual Greek Festival, a fundraiser for St. John's Greek Orthodox Church in Myrtle Beach, on Sept. 25-28 at the church's grounds on the corner of Highway 17 Bypass and 33rd Avenue North, but this is one congregation that knows how to throw a party.

What began as a small church function to help raise money for local charities has blossomed into a major event on the Grand Strand's social calendar. Thousands now attend the four-day festival for the food, wine, music, dancing, arts, crafts and the overall cultural experience, and the event raises thousands for the church's missions.

For all the fun activities taking place at the St. John's Greek Orthodox Church's property, the biggest draw may be the traditional Greek cuisine. The aroma of grilled meats, onions and garlic fill the air surrounding the carnival grounds, and the stomachs of attendees. In fact, the church has had to install a drive-through take-out line for those too busy to spend the day at the festival but too hungry to drive by without grabbing a bite to eat.

Catered by local restaurants and church members, the menu lineup features Gyros (spiced meat on pita bread), Souvlaki (roasted beef, chicken and lamb kabobs), Spanakopita (a savory spinach pie), Moussaka (a lasagna-style dish made with eggplant or potatoes) and a wide s3election of homemade Greek breads and pastries, such as baklava and walnut cake.

Although it might seem odd to folks from more traditional Protestant churches, guests are allowed to imbibe in some excellent Greek wines and beers, as well as non-alcoholic beverages to wash down all that great food and cool off from a full day of dancing. Children perform traditional Greek dances in full costume and the general public joins in with their own dance moves to live music and tunes played by the deejay.

The Greek Festival also has lots of activities for young and old. A Kids Zone features inflatable fun with bouncy houses and slides to keep the little ones occupied, and rows of arts and crafts booths are set up by local and area vendors selling traditional Greek goods and other wares, such as jewelry, seashell art, paintings, glassware and more. A special raffle featuring great prizes donated by local businesses, restaurants and more will be held throughout the festival, as well as tours of the church and lectures.

The Greek Festival begins Thursday, Sept. 25, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the hours run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The festival wraps up Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. Admission is only $1 per day for adults while children 10 and under are admitted free. For more information, call 843-448-3773 .

(posted 8/19/14)