St. Elias' Mediterranean Festival Turns 86
Celebrate Austin's longest running festival of food and culture
By Emily Beyda,
7:00AM, Tue. Sep. 18, 2018
Next weekend, St. Elias’ Orthodox Church celebrates the 86th anniversary of its Mediterranean Festival, Austin’s longest running celebration of food and culture. Since 1932, the parish at St. Elias has been celebrating Mediterranean food and culture with a weekend of family friendly feasting and exhibitions of traditional dances.
This year, the parish is partnering with another institution, Twin Liquors, whose founders, the Jabour family, have been celebrating their Lebanese background through their involvement with the festival since its inception. “MedFest is one of my favorite events of the year, and one that is very close to my heart because of our family heritage,” said David Jabour, president of Twin Liquors. “With food, wine, cocktails, music and dancing, it’s a true celebration and we’re thrilled to lend our support for such a long-standing tradition.”
Still, even with the participation of these specialists in adult beverages, MedFest is a decidedly family friendly event. Your five dollar donation gets you access to the festival marketplace, where vendors will be slinging Orthodox arts and crafts, demonstrations of traditional Greek and Dabke dances, plus live music from special guests Andree Ibrahim and The Laand Band. A few of those sponsored cocktails and you might find yourself showing off a few less traditional moves of your own! There’s a kid’s oasis, where the little ones can play games, and on Saturday from noon to four, admission is free to encourage family participation.
And then there’s the food. Food is undoubtedly the main attraction of MedFest, where you can sample specialties from Lebanese, Palestinian, Greek, Russian, and Eritrean cuisine. Organizers promise that, “Gyros, kibbee, baklava, spanakopita and Arabic coffee are only the beginning as you feast outdoors on delicacies from the Orthodox world,” and we’re holding out for some of the deep cuts of Mediterranean cuisine it can be hard to find in the Austin area. Think sfiha, those delicious portable Palestinian pizzas, or Eritrean injera served with a savory stew. Whatever culinary surprises MedFest holds, the best way to find out is to go yourself, with an empty belly and an open mind.
The 86th annual St. Elias Mediterranean Festival takes place Friday, Sept. 21, 6-11pm, and Saturday, Sept. 22, noon-11pm. For more information, visit www.mediterraneanfestival.org.