10 Ways to Greek Out at San Jose’s Greek Festival

Written June 13, 2015

A few weekends ago, I attended the San Jose Greek Festival (which takes place annually for those of you that missed this year’s)!  It was such a fun and immersive experience–definitely something to look forward to each summer.  Traveling to Greece has always been on my bucket list, but who knew I can experience it all in my backyard?

1. Loukaniko

If you think In-n-Out is good (and I compare with In-n-Out because they clearly have the best burgers aka carbs on the West Coast hands down), then you’ll be in heaven trying these.

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2. Cultural Dances

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4 feet high dancing children make me smile.

A group of school children performed Kalamatianos, holding hands in a circle moving clockwise. Every so often, the song would be complimented by the audience chirping along “Opa!”

3. Authentic Greek Yogurt 

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I like to call this flavor “Whole-Foods-Can-Suck-It” topped with pure honey and walnut.

4. Merchants in the Agora

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Merchants sold things from oil pastel paintings to dresses, jewelry to cultural headwear. Though an art fanatic, such luxury was out of my budget, but admiring them was priceless.

5. Kid-Friendly (and Kim-Friendly) Activities

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Here, you see Kim in her native state. No, not wandering through a Greek Festival. Native state being confused and out of place. There’s the long story to this, but here’s the Sparknotes version: I saw people holding cute mini-hammers, saw a brick,pieces of leather and letter engravings. I put “two and two together” and started hammering the brick with the piece of leather in between. I checked my piece of letter. Nope, my name hadn’t been engraved yet. Maybe I need to try harder I thought. And harder, I tried. Hard enough to attract attention from kids who knew exactly what I was doing, kids who stared at an adult slamming a brick making a leather tag unsuccessfully. I realized my wrongdoings after my brick workout but ditched the crafting to meet a few performers.

6. Beautiful Attendees and Performers

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It turns out that these performers are high school students! I’ve always admired those who–especially at this age–are able to remain in contact with their cultural identity. Look how happy they are awh 🙂1972074_orig-1

7. Greek Music

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8. Calamari, Kabobs, and Fried Potatoes

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I’m no food critic, but I love food. And while these tasted like any other calamari and fried potatoes, it was a good snack! Plus, they were prepared by kids cuter than you’d believe. I find it pretty difficult to say “no” when a child is selling food. (But to be frank, I find it difficult to say “no” when anyone is selling food 😉 )

9. Cute Trinkets

I copped this really cute Greek headband, adorned with green jewels, from one store in the Agora. Now, I’m just waiting for the day I find an outfit to pair it with.

10. Kafenion Outdoor Coffee Shop

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When we heard about the Kafenion outdoor shop, my family and I decided to go purchase some Greek pastries. To get to this secluded area, you had to squeeze between a door, through an alleyway. You would think that it would be less populated with the dance lessons on the main quad, but it was packed! Vendors sold a variety of pastries at a decent price, but because I was busy splurging on my Greek yogurt, I opted out. The area looked like an apartment complex, with Greek opera music playing overhead. People sat around with family, friends, and strangers, conversing about things from how great the dessert was or how tiring work had been that day.

The Greek Festival was incredibly fun. The food was abso-freaking-lutely amazing. The clothing was beautiful. The environment was friendly and accepting. And though I try, these words will never suffice for how the festival was. These adjectives suck, and I cringe at them, really.

With exception of the honey-nut yogurt, my favorite part of the experience was seeing San Jose’s diverse community taking part and exploring a fascinating European culture, learning more about different people in a city renowned as an ethnic hub. Going to the Greek Festival is on the list of the book 100 Things To Do in San Jose, so if you’re ever in San Jose during late May, I recommend attending!

 

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