Greek sailors found their way to Hawaii Islands on whalers and trading vessels after 1830. Beginning in the late 1870s, some forty men from the small Mediterranean country migrated and settled on the Big Island and O‘ahu. They set up produce-growing and shipping operations, cafés, bars, rooming houses, and hotels. To a man they supported the monarchy and participated after the overthrow in the movement to restore the queen to the throne. Imprisoned and suffering business losses for these activities, they reluctantly accommodated to annexation. By World War II, some two hundred men, women, and children formed a community. Migration increased after World War II and a Greek church was established. Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral is now the center of Orthodoxy in Hawaii.
Each year the small congregation of about 100 families puts on a festival of epic proportions. The purpose of the festival is to raise funds for the church and help introduce and perpetuate Greek Culture in Hawaii.
The Greek Festival is scheduled for August 29th and 30th from 12 noon until 9pm at McCoy Pavilion, Ala Moana Park with Greek music, dancing and food.
One of America’s principal Byzantine Iconographers, Diamantis John Cassis will be featured at the 29th annual Greek Festival. Cassis will give a thirty minute presentation each day as well as paint icons on site. Lithographs of some of his most famous work will also be available for sale.
A native of Galaxidion, Greece, Cassis produces iconography in the traditional Byzantine style in painted icons ranging from sets for the iconostasia of churches to single panels of all sizes. In addition to painted icons, Cassis specializes in hand-tooled metal icons in copper and brass. These metal icons, exhibiting intricate detail in low relief, are used as panel icons as well as being incorporated into processional and blessing crosses and liturgical banners.
In addition to Cassis, the festival features “all things Greek” including live and lively Greek entertainment and some of the best authentic Greek food available in Hawaii.
Festival highlights include performances by “FOTIA,” a popular Greek band from the West Coast, plus performances by guitarist Sotos Kappas, dance performances by The Nisiotes Dance Group and more. There will be Greek Folk Dance Instruction sessions where audience participation is encouraged.
Authentic and delicious Mediterranean Greek foods will be available including Spanakopita (Spinach Pie), Gyro sandwiches, Moussaka, Pastichio, Greek Chicken, Souvlaki (skewered beef and pork), Greek and Pasta Salads, Loukoumades (Greek Malasadas), baklava and a wide assortment of Greek Pastries. The Greek Taverna will feature imported Greek Beer, Ouzo, Red, White and Retsina Greek wines.
Admission is $3.00 for adults, free for children 11 years and younger and active military and their families.
The 29th Annual Greek Festival is presented by Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Pacific. For more information go to www.greekfestivalhawaii.com.