Salt Lake’s Annual Greek Festival Canceled Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

Sep 6, 2020, 7:12 PM | Updated: 7:25 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — One of Salt Lake City’s longest running and most popular cultural events has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual Greek Festival is usually a huge event, and this was going to be the biggest yet as the festival was celebrating its 45th anniversary.

The event is held the weekend after Labor Day, but preparations to welcome the tens of thousands of visitors start long before.

The now iconic white tent would be set up, but the pandemic has changed all of that.

Every summer, downtown comes to life with the savory aroma, music, and community of its Greek Festival.

This year marks the festival’s 45th anniversary, a milestone made memorable because of the silence outside the Holy Trinity Church.

“It was a very painful decision that we pondered for many months,” said Father George Nikas of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

Father Nikas said this is the first time since its debut in 1976 that the festival has been canceled.

“We have been asked, in a way, not to live to the fullest because of COVID restrictions, and we are not able to share that with people this year,” he said.

It’s a loss, not just for the community, but for the church as the festival is their primary fundraiser. The money they raise goes to support the local parish and youth programs.

“Above all, it was the health and wellbeing of everyone,” said Father Nikas.

George Karahalios, Parish Counsel president of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, has been participating in the event as a dancer since he was in high school.

He says by now, the heart of the festival — its kitchen — would be bustling with hundreds of volunteers.

“This is really heartbreaking, it’s devastating because this is how the Greek community gives back,” said Karahalios. 

The cooking usually starts weeks in advance.

The delicious pastries guests look forward to are the secret recipes of the parish’s best cooks.

“The majority of our parishioners that do the preparation are the older ladies part of the philoptochos society, and our biggest concern was — how do we keep them social distanced in the middle of the pandemic? Karahalios said. “It would be almost impossible to do that.”

And while the festival will be absent next weekend, Father George said there’s a silver lining in realizing that we’re all in this together.

“It’s heartwarming to know that others feel our pain because they won’t be able to attend,” he said.

But Father Nikas said they haven’t quite given up. They are looking at smaller possibilities like a drive-thru later in the year. In the meantime, they are accepting donations to support activities like their youth program.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

The Nurse Crisis and Patent Risk....
Debbie Worthen

Utah registered nurses are leaving the field, creating the ‘perfect storm’

"Without nurses, we can't have hospitals." Utah nurses are overworked and underpaid. Some say it's put people at risk.
12 days ago
Four-year-old Viola Fairfax-Panza Getting her COVID-19 vaccination, held by her mother Keke Fairfax...
Jed Boal

Salt Lake Co. distributes COVID vaccines for children 6-months and older

Salt Lake County begins COVID-19 vaccinations for children 6 months and older.
12 days ago
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Stephen Zenner/Getty Images)...
Jed Boal

Utah’s youngest kids should be able to get COVID-19 vaccine next week

Kids as young as 6 months old should be able to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the middle of next week. This is an eagerly awaited opportunity for many parents and an issue of concern for others.
16 days ago
Utah COVID testing site. Getty images...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

New mobile COVID-19 testing sites open in Utah

With the summer travel season underway and a steady stream of people still testing positive for COVID-19, Nomi Health opened several mobile testing sites across Utah.
25 days ago
The CDC is released updated mask guidance as researchers learn more about COVID-19. (KSL TV)...
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Charter school asks students not to mask to help ‘normalize’ not wearing masks at school

The American Preparatory Academy asks students not to wear a mask during their last three days of school to help with their 'academic and emotional growth.'
1 month ago
AURORA, CO - DECEMBER 15: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigat...
Jed Boal, KSL TV

Pfizer booster shot is now approved for children 5-11, here’s what a doctor advises

The CDC now recommends Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots for children ages five to 11. But, a leading pediatric epidemiologist suggests some parents may want to wait based on their summer plans.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Salt Lake’s Annual Greek Festival Canceled Due To COVID-19 Pandemic