Organizers worry Middletown Greek Fest days may be numbered

Youth demonstrated their dancing skills at the 50th Greek Fest in Middletown on Sunday. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF
Youth demonstrated their dancing skills at the 50th Greek Fest in Middletown on Sunday. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

Even with great weather and long lines for gyros and baklava, a sobering reality hovered over this past weekend’s 50th Middletown Greek Fest.

Membership at the Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church at 2500 Grand Avenue has dropped, “especially after AK (Steel) changed, and this community changed — a lot of kids moved away,” said Niki Nestor McNeely, a Greek Fest co-chairperson.

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This year may mark a turning point for the festival and church, which has a priest only twice a month.

“There’s some discussion about whether we can do it all. The women who make the pastries are over 80 (years old),” McNeely said.

Christina G. Spantithos made the trip from Columbus to the festival.

“I’m Greek, and I think it’s great to perpetuate the Greek culture and religion,” she said. “I just hope they can sustain it. It’s a small church.”

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People attended the event from Texas; Washington, D.C.; Salt Lake City; Canada and Columbus, among other places, according to McNeely.

“They came to see their siblings, their cousins, and their aunts and uncles. Plus, they see their high-school friends,” she said of those who have since moved away from the area.