MANATEE -- The 30th -annual Greek Glendi was two hours in, and hundreds of people already swarmed the stands for Greek lasagna, salad and gyros.
"It has been nice and steady for lunch, but we are expecting a crowd for dinner tonight," Popi Ameres, festival head cook, said Thursday afternoon.
For several months, Ameres and 200 volunteers at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church have been preparing dishes for the 13,000 people Greek Glendi is expected to draw.
After taking down a pork gyro, Pat Lord bought a diple to go. Among the slew of desserts, a good Greek diple (pronounced "THEE-ple") is her favorite: "It's wonderful -- a diple with coffee is the best."
A diple is made of thin sheets of dough folded into a roll and deep fried. The curled confection is drizzled with honey and topped with cinnamon and walnuts.
Lord, who has lived in Sarasota all her life, said Greek Glendi gets better each year: "This has really grown. When I first started coming, it was small."
She and a friend spent some time rummaging through knickknacks at Yia Yia's Attic in the festival marketplace. A year's worth of parishioner donations -- old dolls, Santa figurines, a wedding guest book, old photo frames and albums -- filled long tables.
"When people want to get rid of things, they want to get rid of them right then," said volunteer Mary
Tsottles. "So we collect them all year and sell them here."
The wine and liquor booth was a little slow around noon on a weekday, but volunteer bartender Steve Zeris was pouring the ouzo, a licorice-tasting liquor.
When asked if ouzo was a well-known drink in the states, Zeris said, "Only those who enjoy life know what this is."
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.