KNOXVILLE - Greek Fest kicked off its annual weekend in Knoxville on Friday.
St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church hosts three days of celebrating Greek culture and a chance to experience tradition that’s been passed down in the church for years.
"We know how to party, and we know how to be loud,” said Grace Vallante. “And when those things combine, you have Greek Fest.”
"None of this would be here today if it weren't for the older generation of this community,” said Grace’s mother Artemis Dedes. “They are the backbone.”
That backbone includes Artemis’ mother and Grace’s grandmother, Sophia Tampasis. A Greek immigrant, Sophia is one of the cooks behind the delicious Greek treats.
"Oh, she's quite the woman, she's very funny, she will always keep you laughing,” said Grace.
As Sophia has worked to prepare the food the last few weeks, she had Grace by her side.
“She's probably the best cook I know,” said Grace.
Many of the “yia yias” or grandmothers teach cooking skills to the younger ladies in the church.
"They do not complain one bit and are more than happy to teach the younger generation how to get it done,” said Artemis.
Since Grace was young, the 17-year-old has learned about her Greek heritage from her yia yia.
"It's fun seeing the recipes that were handed down from when she was in Greece and baking them with her,” said Grace.
Each Greek Fest brings change and a need to pass along those lessons.
"A lot of women, older women pass away these years, and we miss them very much. They did a good job and we learn from them, and so the new generation is going to learn from us,” said Sophia.
Sometimes the most important lessons can't be taught in a kitchen or on a dance floor. They are taught by spending time with family at events like Greek Fest.
(© 2016 WBIR)