St. Philip Church gearing up for annual Greek Food Festival

Telegraph file photo Volunteer servers know how to keep the food line moving -- and their customers happy.

NASHUA – If you were driving around town the past few days and saw a youngish-looking middle-aged man sticking metal-legged campaign signs into small grassy areas and median strips, the answer is no – he’s not running for office.

He’s George Eftimiou, and he’s what you might call a single-issue candidate: His lone campaign message is to encourage folks in Greater Nashua to come join him at the upcoming St. Philip Church Greek Food Festival.

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Like most members of the St. Philip Church community, Eftimiou can’t remember a time when he wasn’t involved in one church function or another, and that includes the food festival, going back to when it was a project of the church’s Ladies’ Society, now the Agape Ladies’ Society.

Initially an every-two-years event, the festival went annual 30-some years ago, when the society teamed up with members of the Parish Council and formed a “super committee” that each year seems to do the impossible: Outdo itself once again.

Telegraph file photo Charlie Pipilas, Lori Trearchis, Gail Philipon, Stella Bloom and Eleni Philipon take a brief break for a photo during last year's Greek Food Festival.

Whether tasked with strategically placing signs throughout the city ­ 250 of them have gone into the ground, Eftimiou says ­ or assigned to dolmathes duty, put on loukamades and baklava detail, nominated to the spanakopita-pastichio team or selected for the plum job of skewering and grilling the cubes of juicy, trimmed marinated lamb known as shish kebob (or is it “kebab?”), members of this “super committee” cheerfully contribute more than their share year after year.

When I caught up last week with Jamie Pappas, a festival fixture and one of its several chairmen and chairwomen for the past several years, she was pleased with the progress.

“We’re pretty much on schedule … we have a few more things to make,” she said, referring to the preparation timeline that volunteers have perfected over the years.

The final prep step, of course, is the process of cubing the lamb kababs and immersing them in giant containers of the olive oil-based marinade.

Noting the festival goes on rain or shine, Pappas reminded folks not to worry about the weather ­ giant tents placed end-to-end ensure plenty of dry seating for one or two or an extended family.

Telegraph file photo Cubes of marinated lamb grilled on giant skewers is a staple feature of the annual St. Philip Greek Food Festival, which draws people from near and far each May.

There have been a few times when the tents shielded patrons from other types of weather, such as excessive heat, an unseasonable chill, and pesky gusts of wind.

Indeed, mid-May in central New England is, to paraphrase a respected American philosopher, like a box of chocolates ­ you never know what you’re gonna get.

Dean Shalhoup’s column appears Sundays in The Telegraph. He may be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or@Telegraph_DeanS.

Telegraph file photo Longtime festival volunteer Lynda Marandos serves visitors with a smile at last year's event.