By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
Festive celebrations usually include plenty of good eats.
In Campbell, food, especially ethnic food, is often the reason for celebration. It's also a profitable fund-raiser for many of the local churches.
Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church, 401 12th St., holds a Greek food fest every September that draws hungry fans from as far as Akron, Cleveland and Aliquippa, Pa., said Gloria Cambouris, president of Archangel Michael's Ladies Society, which oversees food preparations.
The three-day event features Greek folk dancers in traditional costumes and live music, but the big draw is the food.
Among the items available are spinach and cheese pies, stuffed grape leaves; pastitso, which Cambouris describes as Greek lasagna with alternating layers of macaroni, meat sauce and cream sauce; moussaka, an eggplant and potato dish with either meat or cream sauce; and lamb and chicken dinners baked Greek style.
Also available are gyros; souvlaki, which is marinated pork grilled over hot coals similar to shishkabob and served in pita bread with onion, parsley, tomato and sour cream sauce; rice pilaf; salads with feta cheese; and assorted Greek sweets.
There are Greek doughnuts, a loose dough fried and topped with honey; sweet breads; sweet toast; and pastes, described as "a special cake with a creamy texture and whipped cream and almonds on top," Cambouris said.
There is baklava, a traditional cookie made from phyllo dough and honey; galatoboureko, a phyllo dough cookie with custard in the middle; fenekia, a butter cookie coated with a honey-sugar syrup and rolled in crushed nuts; koulourakia, a braided cookie made for dunking; and kourambiethes, a butter cookie rolled in powdered sugar.
When it began
The food fest began in 1972 when the church needed to raise funds, Cambouris said. It was so successful, it's become an annual event.
Archangel Michael also holds an indoor festival every February or March, and periodically holds Greek-style chicken dinners to raise funds. The church will renovate its social hall early next year, Cambouris said, so there will be frequent food-sale fund-raisers between now and then. Food sale proceeds are used for capital improvements.
The next chicken dinner will be Sunday, Oct. 31, from noon to 3 p.m. Meals include Greek-style baked chicken, rice pilaf, green beans and salad.
Within the next five years, Cambouris said, church members hope to use food-sale proceeds to make the church buildings, including a restroom, handicapped accessible and to replace deteriorating brick on the outside walls. The annual food sales amount to about $30,000, Cambouris estimated.
St. Rose of Lima, 50 Struthers-Coitsville Road, on the city's border, holds food sales featuring Spanish fare after Mass the first Sunday of every month. There will also be a sale from noon to about 1:15 p.m. Sunday, said John Rodriguez, who works in St. Rose parish ministry.
Parishioners are the biggest customers but the sale is also open to the community, and food is available for eat-in or carryout.
Fare at St. Rose of Lima includes pastelillos, a kind of meat pie; pasteles, a dough made from plantains and Spanish vegetables rolled around meat, frozen and then boiled; alcapurrias, which are the same except they are fried instead of boiled, and a variety of desserts including arroz con dulce, a type of rice pudding; flan, which is similar to custard; and dulce de papaya, which similar to candy.
Russian, Slavic foods
At St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church, 301 Struthers-Liberty Road, Russian and Slavic foods are the specialties.
Halushki sales are every Friday from September through June, kolachi sales and strudel sales are twice a year -- before Christmas and Easter. And the Easter Fest features sit-down and carryout full-course dinners.
The Easter Fest began in 1993 serving 200 to 250 people, said Linda Livosky, chairwoman for the event. "Now we have way over 1,200," she said. "Plus, we end up shipping stuff all over."
The event has outgrown St. John's building, so it takes place the Saturday before the western Palm Sunday -- March 19 in 2005 -- at St. Joseph the Provider Church, Livosky said.
Among the items for sale are homemade kolbasi; borscht, a Russian soup made from beets and cabbage; halushki, made with cabbage or cheese; paska bread, which is put in food baskets to be blessed before the feast; pagachi, a Russian pizza with potato and cheese filling; molded sirnaya paska, which is a spread for sweet bread made from cheese and fruit; blini, fruit-topped cheese cr & eacute;pes; stuffed cabbage; and fish dinners.
Sales help cover capital improvements such as replacement of a boiler this month, estimated to cost $40,000, said Father John Steffaro, pastor. Despite the plethora of church food sales, Father Steffaro said competition is not a problem.
"Certain churches specialize in certain things -- we never got into [pirogi] because that's not our thing," he said.
At St. Joseph the Provider, 633 Porter, parishioners sell pirogi every Friday, September through May. They also host a steak fry the first week of October, a spaghetti dinner in late winter and sell a variety of ethnic foods during the summer festival: pirogi, stuffed cabbage, halushki, kolbasi and kraut, said Dorothy Stellmar, auxiliary clerk at the church.
"Food sales are one of the biggest incomes of the whole festival," she said. Proceeds benefit the church and school.
About 500 meals are served at the steak fry and at the spaghetti dinner, Stellmar added.
Pirogi sales are also steady, she said. Volunteers, mostly retired church members, make three varieties: potato, kraut and lekvar. They cost $3.50 a dozen, and most orders are phoned in although walk-in customers are welcome, Stellmar said.
St. John's Church, 159 Reed Ave., also hosts a variety of fund-raiser dinners throughout the year.
"We had a stuffed cabbage dinner in September -- this was our second year -- and we made over 1,000 cabbage rolls and we sold all of them," said Marge Palusak, church secretary.
"It took us three days to make the food -- cabbage rolls, mashed potatoes, homemade apple sauce, vegetables, bread and homemade kolachi for dessert.
"We're good Slovak cooks and we're hoping to do this once a year," she said. "It really helps subsidize our monthly contributions and with utility bills as high as they are, and insurance, it helps."
Palusak said diners came from as far as Canton and Ashtabula for the stuffed cabbage.
St. John's also holds a steak fry twice a year -- the next one will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30 . Tickets are $10 at the door. The meal includes steak, potato, vegetable, salad and dessert.
A spaghetti dinner is planned for early spring.