ST. LOUIS — Arguably the biggest Labor Day tradition in St. Louis is the St. Nicholas Greek Festival. Despite the rain over the weekend, thousands flocked to the Central West End Greek Orthodox Church.
Organizers hoped this weekend would be big, especially since the last two years were drive-thru only. The COVID-19 virus took the festival out of the Central West End and into St. Louis County where parishioners served faithful diners in their cars.
This year's weather didn't help, but that didn't bring the atmosphere down.
"We didn't do this for two years," Ben Murphy, a festival fan and volunteer, told 5 On Your Side. "We live for this...we love our community and we love our church, and now we are fulfilled again...post-COVID."
If only the weather could have been a little better for their first year back since 2019.
"We were a little nervous Sunday," Carol Kamburis, festival organizer told 5 On Your Side. "With the rain storm...we had to evacuate the tent for a little bit, but we sucked out the water and reopened within 30 minutes."
Kamburis and Murphy said crowds over the weekend were down compared to years past, but that activity picked up on Monday.
"I feel like sometimes it's not as motivating to go out when it's raining," Kamburis said. "But these people love Greek food and this is the best Greek food in St. Louis."
If you've never been to the festival, Murphy said in a typical year the festival hosts 30 to 40 thousand people over the four day Labor Day holiday weekend.
He recommends that if you're on the run, then try the gyro from YaYa's Euro Bistro at the festival.
But you got to go for the lamb shank dinner available inside if you have a little extra time and want to sit down.
According to a press release, the festival also featured Greek dance performances, live music, unique Mediterranean gifts, imported jewelry, and tours of the historic Orthodox church.
For more information on the festival and updates on next year's event, visit opastl.com.