Since way back in the mid-1980s, one of the Bradenton-Sarasota area's favorite festivals has been the Greek Glendi at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church. It's billed as "an authentic cultural experience" and it offers four full days of Hellenic culture.
The 30th annual festival is coming up this week, today through Sunday.
Among the attractions are lots of Greek food (you can count on gyros, souvlaki, moussaka, baklava and some more obscure Greek delights), a market with jewelry and craft items, Greek folk dancing from the church's Hellenic Dancers, kids activities and church tours.
There's also lively Greek music from Ellada, a Florida band that has established a solid reputation for virtuosic musicianship and dedication to the integrity of the style.
For people who aren't so interested in Greek food and culture, the Greek Glendi offers another attraction. At 7 p.m. Sunday evening, the winners of a prize drawing will be announced. First prize is a 2014 Lincoln MKZ or MKX (one's a traditional gasoline car and one's a hybrid). Second prize is pretty significant -- $7,500 in cash --and even third prize, a round trip to the Greek islands for two, is valued at $5,000.
There's free parking at the church, but if the lot there is full you can park at the Trinity Church at 7225 Lockwood Ridge Road, about a mile north of St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, and take a free shuttle.
"Glendi" is a Greek word for "party" or "celebration," but it has become the common name for festivals all over the country that showcase Greek food, art and culture.
Details: Feb. 6-9, St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church at 7671 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, East Manatee. Times: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $4; children under 12 free. Information: 941-355-2616, www.stbarbarafestival.org.
-- Marty Clear