The Hamptons Greek Festival: More Than a Family Affair

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Get ready to go back to the Greek. The Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons will throw open the Byzantine doors of their new church for the 29th Hamptons Greek Festival on July 10 to 13.

Father Alexander Karloutsos and his family, including wife Xanthi, daughter Anastasia and son-in-law Father Constantine Lazaraki, along with 250 other families, will host the four-day affair, filled with food, music, dancing, drinking and more food.

There is no charge to enter the festival, and proceeds from the event go toward charity; in 2012 they donated $100,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project.

“We believe in hospitality,” says Father Alexander. “We have a love of strangers, called filoxenia, and we open our hearts and homes to them, and food.”

Xanthi Karloutsos and her army of volunteers will cook up a storm. Among the savory dishes served will be: skordalia, tzatziki,
tiropita, moussaka, pasticcio, spanakopita, gyro, pork and chicken souvlaki, lemon potatoes, lamb shanks, calamari and Greek chicken. “Basically, Greek ‘anything’ is lemon, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil,” Ms. Karloutsos says.

Everything is homemade and comes from the oldest traditional recipes in the community. Once a recipe is agreed upon, quality control is established by tasting, tasting and more tasting.

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Father Constantine’s favorites are the famous pastries: baklava, kataifi, finikia, kourabiethes and koulourakia. Sweets aside, the young priest believes the secret to the festival’s success is the volunteers. “Once you have dedicated volunteers, you sense the love that goes into it and naturally want to become a part of it,” he says. “The festival is a family environment that just does not exist anymore.”

A takeout program adds a twist of technology to the tradition. People can go to hamptonsgreekfestival.com to see the menu and order at least two hours before picking up their food at designated tables on the festival grounds.

“Everything is beautiful,” says Father Constantine. “If you love music, if you love food, come taste the tastes, smell the smells and hear the sounds.” Consider it the biggest house party of the summer.

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Kelly Ann Smith lives in East Hampton between Gardiner's Bay and Accabonac Harbor. She's been writing about the East End since 1995. Her weekly column, "A View from Bonac," can be found in the East Hampton Press.