The Democratic National Convention turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the 35th annual Yiasou Greek Festival.
The Dilworth festival is usually scheduled for the weekend after Labor Day, but because of the convention, it began Thursday.
It worked out in our favor because last week it was raining out, so we wouldve had a problem, said John Karagiannis, a chairman of the festival. We expect a really big turnout because the weather is awesome.
The festival usually attracts 40,000 to 60,000 people, he said.
In the sunny, mild weather, children danced onstage to the beats of a Greek band.
Let me hear an Opa! one man cried into a microphone.
People perused stands that sold belly-dance skirts and jewelry. Others stopped for a wine-tasting at My Big Fat Greek Wine.
Alice Chagaris has helped run the festival since the first one in 1978. She said she couldnt be happier with the weather, and that the festival has never been rained out.
We are convinced God likes Greeks because the weather has been perfect year after year, said Chagaris, who helped bake thousands of different Greek pastries for the event.
The large tent selling Greek food outside, from spanakopita to souvlaki, drew a large crowd Thursday around lunchtime.
I thoroughly enjoy the baklava, said B.J. Allen, who waited in line Thursday afternoon to order lunch. Allen, 69, said she also enjoyed the tour of Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Greek Orthodox church on-site.
But she said the delicious food is whats made her come back year after year. You dont want to be on a diet and come here, she said with a laugh.
A handful of men were dressed as ancient Greek warriors for re-enactment purposes. One stood tall in a face mask of gold topped with a bushy headdress of yellow and black.
But he wasnt a local man of Greek descent like the others: Gary Thomas, of Scottish-Irish descent, spoke of the ancient Battle of Marathon in a soft Tennessee accent.
Thomas, 51, works for Lowes in Chattanooga, and said he was happy to be invited by a friend to help re-enact.
Theres not a big Greek population in Chattanooga, Thomas said.
Ever since reading Greek philosophy in college, Thomas has been enthralled with the countrys ancient history and its people.
Even though Im from a different ethnic background, he said, we have a lot of similarities.