Explore: Greek Fest in Saanich; boating in Oak Bay; Indigenous music and arts

Sample the flavours of Greece at Greek Fest

Be prepared for food, music dance — and lots of cries of “Opa!” — as Greek Fest returns this weekend and next, at the Greek Community Hall, in front of Saanich Commonwealth Place.

This is the 18th year of the family-friendly event, hosted by the Victoria and Vancouver Island Greek Community Society.

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In Greece, everything revolves around food, and it is customary to invite your neighbours to join together and take the time to enjoy a meal. At Greek Fest, you can immerse yourself in the culture, by sharing supper with friends and strangers at long picnic tables to watch the entertainment.

You can enjoy the ever-popular arni psito (spit-roasted lamb), spanakopita (a phyllo pie filled with herbed spinach and feta cheese), gyros, Greek salad, rice and tzatziki for dinner, followed by hot, honey-covered doughnuts, called loukoumades, for dessert.

You will likely hear shouts of “Opa”, which is a common Greek expression.

In Greek culture, the expression can be heard every time a plate is purposely, or accidentally, smashed on the floor.

Elkelam, a traditional Greek dance group based in Athens, along with choreographer Konstantina Efentaki, will again be in Victoria to perform at the festival.

Other Greek performers include the Zephyros Hellenic Dance Society, the Anemos Greek Dancers and the Tharros Greek Dance Academy.

To reflect the multicultural aspect of the community the performers will share the stage with the White Eagle Band, the Bashirah Middle Eastern Dance Company, Alma de Espana, Lekwungen Traditional Dancers, Pearl of the South Pacific Polynesian Dancers, Scottish country dancers and others.

If you still can’t get your mind off the delicious food, you can learn how to prepare some of the dishes by signing up for the Greek cooking lessons.

Learn about the history of Greeks in British Columbia at a heritage exhibit — including information on a fishing village created 120 years ago — in the Greek Community Hall.

You can also visit the community’s Orthodox Christian church, with its distinctive iconography collection.

Proceeds from all those meals keeps on giving as well — the Victoria and Vancouver Island Greek Community Society is partnering with the Saanich Fire Department to fund for a year-round hot-lunch program at a school.

The festival is free. It runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 23 to 25 and Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at the Greek Community Hall, 4648 Elk Lake Dr. (in front of Saanich Commonwealth Place).

For more information, go to greekfest.ca.

Take to the water at Oak Bay Marina event

The public is invited to the launch of B.C. Boating Week at Ahoy Oak Bay!, Saturday at Oak Bay Marina.

Through the advocacy of the Boating B.C. Association, the province has proclaimed Aug. 24 to 30 as B.C. Boating Week.

The event is an opportunity for everyone, regardless of age or income, to get on the water.

There will be on-water demonstrations and activities by Olympic trialthlon gold medallist Simon Whitfield, Ocean River Sports and Adventure and Whitehall Rowing.

First-timers can rent power boats, personal watercraft, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards with no experience or certification required.

You can listen to live music and watch demonstrations by local sculptors and other artists.

Family activities include an inflatable amusement, games and face-painting. There will be marine vendors, suppliers and community services on site, and you can enjoy a charity barbecue in support of Oak Bay Sea Rescue.

The event is free. It runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Oak Bay Marina, 1327 Beach Dr. For details, go to boatingbc.ca/events/ahoy-oak-bay.

Indigenous culture celebrated 

Indigenous musicians from across B.C. will descend on Victoria for Indigifest, a one-day music, arts and culture festival Saturday at Esquimalt Gorge Park.

The festival is hosted by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council in partnership with Creative B.C. and the B.C. Arts Council.

The family-friendly event will be headlined by Snotty Nose Rez Kids, a Haisla hip-hop duo from Kitimat, who have been nominated for the 2019 Polaris Prize.

Other musicians — including Curtis Clearsky and the Constellationz, Lola Parks, Norinne Braun, Niska Napoleon, Ms. Pan!k and others — will perform on two outdoor stages.

You can take part in interactive workshops and create art and music with local artists.

There is also an Indigenous marketplace of vendors selling unique handcrafted goods, food trucks and a children’s area offering art projects and traditional games.

The event is free to attend. It runs 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at Esquimalt Gorge Park, 1070 Tillicum Rd.

For more information, go to indigifest.ca or Facebook.

Tuck into food and beverage festival

Vancouver Island Feast of Fields is a three-hour wandering gourmet harvest festival that reconnects farmers and chefs, fields and tables, and farm and city folks, Sunday at Snowdon House, North Saanich.

This is the 22nd year of the annual event on Vancouver Island. Along with similar events in the Okanagan and Metro Vancouver, it is billed as B.C.’s largest local food and beverage festival.

The event is an opportunity to sample local, sustainable food and meet the people behind the local food movement.

Guests typically travel from tent to tent (sometimes through the barn, past the tractor or around the chicken coop), with a wine glass and linen napkin in hand, listening to live music while tasting creations from up to 50 local chefs, farmers, fishers, ranchers, food artisans, vintners, brewers, distillers and other beverage producers.

The event is both a food celebration and a fundraiser for FarmFolk CityFolk, whose mission is to connect, empower and inspire people to strengthen B.C.’s sustainable food systems.

Tickets are $99 for adults, $45 for youth 13 to 18, and $15 for children six to 12.

The event runs from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Snowdon House, 1890 Mills Rd., North Saanich.

For more information, go to feastoffields.com. Tickets can be obtained on Eventbrite.

Ladysmith’s artists show off their work

Meet artists, with a coffee cup in one hand and original art in the other, at Arts on the Avenue, on First Avenue, Ladysmith, on Sunday.

This is the 21st year of the annual event, with more than 55 juried artists, including First Nation artists, lining the street with colourful original paintings, jewellery, fabric art, carvings, native art and more.

The air will be filled with music, community merchants will hold a sidewalk sale and children can attend an art space to create their own one-of-a-kind work to take home.

Make sure you visit the food tents and the community tents to find out what’s happening in Ladysmith.

The event is free. It runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday on First Avenue (from Buller Street to Warren Street), Ladysmith. Park on the east side of First Avenue. Leave pets at home. For details, go to artsontheavenue.ca.

Saanich church service blesses all animals  

Be it with fur, feathers or scales, biped or quadruped, all creatures great and small are welcome at the Blessing of the Animals at Central Saanich United Church on Sunday.

The service is in honour of the gifts that animals bring to our lives. Rev. Allan Saunders will welcome dogs, cats, gerbils, lizards, fish — even beloved stuffed animals, such as teddy bears.

If you don’t think your pet would enjoy the event, bring a photo, momento, favourite toy or collar.

The service is participatory, for all ages —children are welcome to stay for the whole service.

The service runs 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday at the Central Saanich United Church, 7180 East Saanich Rd., Saanichton. Bring your pets appropriately leashed or in a cage.

More information can be found here.

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