SALT LAKE CITY — Each year, Basil Chelemes and Tykie Skedros spend their time at the Greek Festival cooking fresh lamb on a spit. This year, they’ll cook seven lambs. The two have been involved with the annual Greek festival held at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Salt Lake City since they were kids. The festival begins Thursday, Sept. 6 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 9 at the cathedral, 279 S. 300 West in Salt Lake City. Admission is $3, which goes to charity. Skedros lives in Bountiful and Chelemes is a former Layton resident who grew up there and graduated from Layton High School. For many, it is one of the highlights of the year. Davis County residents join the throngs standing in line for dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), pastitsio (baked pasta), souvlaki (meat on a skewer), baklava (pastry) and l the other foods the festival has become known for. Like so many members of the cathedral’s congregation, Chelemes began working at the festival as a child, performing dances on stage. Performances are put on throughout the festival of traditional Greek dances, mainly performed by young people. Chelemes then went on to clear tables and in college he worked in the soulavaki booth, which he eventually chaired. Now, with Skedros, he cooks the lamb, which is sold at a separate booth and is often served with a salad. “Everything we do is fresh, not frozen,” Chelemes said. The lamb is roasted daily during the festival on a spit, but members begin buying products in June and some dishes are cooked in advance and frozen. Chelemes said most people attend the festival for the food and entertainment. He believes more should take the tour of the cathedral. In 1905, members of the Greek community built their first church. By 1920, the community had outgrown that building and purchased the land where the Cathedral now sits. Chelemes said Salt Lake City had one of the largest Greek communities in the nation because of mining and the railroad, which drew Greek workers. Those attending the festival may view the artwork and have the Greek Orthodox faith explained to them.
For more information check out the Sept.6 edition of Davis Clipper.