St. Symeon 5th Annual Food & Culture Fair
October 14, 2023 @ 9:00 am - 3:00 pmFree
Guests at this year’s St. Symeon Food and Culture Fair will see a church interior completely filled with large murals as the church reveals its newly painted interior at the fair on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 9-3. The fair, now in its 5th year, will continue to offer baked goods, gifts, and hot food items such as Greek donuts and homemade pierogi, as well as church tours, a choir concert, and a lecture about sacred art in the Byzantine Christian tradition.
“The Food and Culture Fair is our annual open house,” explained Fr. Alexander Fecanin, the priest at St. Symeon. “This year will be really special because we will finally have the entire worship space in the church filled with iconography,” he added. “We invite everyone to come tour the church, hear the choir, and enjoy some great food.”
The church, which was built in 2014, will be open for tours throughout the fair. At 1 p.m., Protodeacon Ephraim Rivers will present “What is Iconography?” a talk explaining the ancient Christian tradition of sacred art and the role of icons in Orthodox Christianity.
“Participants in this year’s church tours and iconography talk will see the church interior completely decorated with iconographic murals,” Fr. Pdn. Ephraim said. “Virtually every square inch of the church’s walls, ceilings and columns is now covered in magnificent iconography! Come and see!”
The St. Symeon Food and Culture Fair has been an annual event (except for 2020) since 2018. In addition to the cultural programs offered inside the church, the event features an open air market where guests can purchase baked goods and gifts from a variety of world cultures. Each year, church members work in teams to create market booths that loosely coincide with the different ethnic backgrounds of the congregation.
“We’re excited to be adding a new booth this year,” said event chairperson Niki May. “The Middle Eastern Market will feature homemade hummus as well as a variety of Middle Eastern and Ethiopian foods,” she added. The other market booths will return, including The Slavic Tea Room,The Balkan Bakery, Cafe Europa, and Southern Sweets and Savories. A separate booth will offer Slavic tea from a samovar, Ethiopian coffee, and, new for this year, kompot, a traditional Slavic fruit drink.
Guests at this year’s food and culture fair will also find made-to-order loukoumades, or fried Greek honey puffs, in the Opa Kabana booth. The event will also feature sausage roll sandwiches and homemade pierogi as hot lunch options. The pierogi are Slavic dumplings filled with potato, cheese and onion.
“For last year’s fair, we made about 3,000 pierogi entirely from scratch, and those all sold out, so we are getting ready to spend about a week together making as many pierogi as we can,” May added. In addition to hot pierogi with onions and sour cream, pierogi are also available frozen by the dozen.
Guests can enjoy their food purchases on site in the church fellowship hall and also stock up on baked goods to take home. There will be music in the fellowship hall for guests to enjoy, and the church’s gift shop will be open selling books, choir CDs, icons, toys and other goods.
“At St. Symeon, we love to cook,” May said, “but our parish is really known for our choir.” The St. Symeon Orthodox Church Choir has recorded several albums, and its work is in regular rotation on Ancient Faith Radio. The choir will present a concert at 11 a.m. titled “God Grant you Many Years: Hymns from Throughout the Ages.”
“The concert will feature hymns from a wide variety of musical and cultural backgrounds – from 3rd century Constantinople to 21st century America,” explained Reader Andrew Ritchey, choir director at St. Symeon. “Listeners can hear settings of Orthodox hymnography from across the world and throughout history, including the oldest recorded non-scriptural hymn, ‘O Gladsome Light.’”
“The Orthodox Christian Church continues to sing these hymns that have been used from its earliest days, while joining with them hymns that continued to be written through the ages,” Rdr. Andrew said. “Our concert will explore texts and settings from the entirety of Christian history.”
St. Symeon Orthodox Church is located at 3101 Clairmont Avenue in Birmingham. It is a parish of the Orthodox Church in America, a jurisdiction of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Regular weekly services include Vespers on Saturdays at 5 p.m. and the Divine Liturgy on Sundays at 10 a.m. A full schedule of services is available at StSymeon.com. Services are in English and visitors are welcome.