MERRILLVILLE — At 50 years old, Northwest Indiana’s original Greek Fest is showing no signs of slowing down.
Less than an hour after it opened Friday, the parking lot at the SS. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral was becoming full and people were getting ready to eat.
Many decided to dine at the fest while others were there to bring food home to their families.
Sitting outside at the Greek Fest, Merrillville Clerk-Treasurer Eugene Guernsey was among those relaxing.
Guernsey said he tries to attend every Greek Fest. He said food is one of the main reasons he's there, with gyros being his meal of choice.
“How can you go wrong with the gyros,” Guernsey asked with a smile.
Although he was relaxing on Friday, there were many times the Greek Fest kept Guernsey busy.
When he was a Merrillville police officer, Guernsey worked security at the event.
He recalled how the festival attracted so many people that it became difficult to get in there.
The social aspect of the Greek Fest is one of the may draws for Rick Bella, the Democratic nominee for Merrillville’s 5th Ward Town Council seat.
While visiting the church, it’s easy to run into friends, Bella said after dining on Greek chicken Friday night.
Hobart City Councilman Jerry Herzog also enjoys meeting with friends and neighbors at the Greek Fest.
“I look forward to it every year,” Herzog said after ordering a gyros meal.
The Greek Fest continues from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday at the church, 8000 Madison St.
The event features an extensive menu that includes barbecue lamb, pork shish kebab, pastitsio, Greek fries and saganaki.
Many types of pastries also are available for purchase.
A beer garden also will be open, as well as a coffee tent featuring European-style coffee.
Visitors will have plenty of opportunities to see live entertainment.
The Minitones Band has reunited just for the fest and will perform from 6-11 p.m. Saturday.
Ormi also will be playing Greek music from 5-10 p.m. Sunday, and the church's Greek Orthodox youth folk dancers will put on performances at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Carnival rides and games are open at the festival. Wristbands can be purchased for $20 from 1-5 p.m. Saturday.