PITTSFIELD -- Aidnan Kerin was indoctrinated into Greek culture on Saturday during Greek Fest 2013.
The 15-year-old Adams resident went to the two-day celebration of Greek culture that continues today and enjoyed the Greek dish pastitsio, a meat-style casserole, for lunch instead of the more familiar gyro. The annual church fundraiser is run by St. George Greek Orthodox Church located at 73 Bradford St. in Pittsfield.
When Kerin arrived, an older adult took his hand and invited him to dance the kalamatiano -- a dance where people hold hands and dance in a circular pattern -- in front of the large crowd that came out on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
"I wasn’t really nervous," Aidnan said. "I was just going with it. It’s something different. I like trying things that are different. I don’t like sticking to the status quo."
What did he think about the pastitsio?
"It’s really different," Aidnan said. "I had my doubts because I like the gyro. I wanted to get that but then I basically said why not try something different I hadn’t heard of. It turned out really good."
Greek Fest festivities will continue today from noon to 6 p.m. with food vendors, music and dancing. There’s only a small Greek population in the Pittsfield area, but for more than 20 years the members of St. George Orthodox Church have hosted the popular fundraiser. There will also be a live performance from musical group, The Olympians.
"I love to see people appreciate what we already appreciate, our Greek heritage, and for them to be educated and share in the excitement and know who we are," said event co-chair Viki Gagliardo.
"We’ve made a name for ourselves, no doubt about it. Just to see people enjoy what we already have is great."
Co-chair Maria Parastatidis, who took an impromptu break in her interview to join in some dancing, said everything from the lasagna-like moussaka to balklava were familiar sights at her home that she was thrilled to share with the public.
"For every traditional holiday, we had balklava ... for Christmas people had turkey or ham, [the Greeks] had moussaka or pastitsio."
The event includes vendors selling 15 pastries and a dozen dishes.
Victoria Stathis mobilized 40 volunteers to make pastries. She said the balklava is a popular selection, but she’s a personal fan of the fnikia, a spice-type cookie dipped in honey and decorated with an apricot or date.
Aidnan was one of those who enjoyed the balklava.
"Very, very good. I mean, that’s all I can really say about it," Aidnan said. "I’ve had it before, but my mom’s exact words were, ‘You’ve had it before, but when the Greeks make it, ‘Oh my God.’ "