The GLENDI Food Festival is an annual event celebrating the ethnic diversity of the Protection of the Holy Virgin Parish and its Saint Seraphim Orthodox Church. Established in 1936, ours is the oldest Orthodox Christian parish in Sonoma County. The first GLENDI, a Saturday only event held in 1989, was nearly washed away by a tropical storm that broke in the pre-dawn hours. In spite of the rain, we did have a wonderful party that day! The band moved inside our small hall; our kitchen produced a delicious Greek chicken dinner, and other food offerings were served from the edges of the tent we had rented to protect our guests from the late summer sun. Undaunted by that damp beginning, we returned in 1990 with another Saturday only event. This time we were blessed with beautiful weather and were encouraged to carry on with our festival. In 1991, we expanded to a two day format. 2014 maked the 25th GLENDI held on the third weekend of September. Although there was not a festival in 2011 when we were building our new hall, GLENDI has grown to be bigger and better than ever and 2016 will bring some new surprise for everyone to enjoy.
Every party needs good food, and we have great food! Our food booths represent the ethnic diversity of our American Orthodox community—including Russian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Palestinian, Eritrean, Balkan, and Italian. We feature Sonoma County wines and micro-brew beers in addition to coffee in many styles, excellent teas, soft drinks and frozen treats. Last year, we expanded to include a German themed Biergarten, away from the activity of the dance area, offering snacks and beers from a single local brewery.
Great music will be on the menu, as well. This year we are fortunate to have Édessa as the band for both days. Édessa is one of the top Greek/Balkan bands anywhere, and we have been lucky to have had some of their accomplished musicians playing at GLENDI as far back as our waterlogged first year. Even if you do not dance, you will enjoy their spirited music. A separate, lawn covered children’s area is devoted to kids’ activities and food.
Both of our churches—the original Protection of the Holy Virgin which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and the newer Saint Seraphim—will be open for tours, lectures and for prayer. The interior of Saint Seraphim, built in 1996, is in the process of being covered with frescos in the ancient tradition of the Orthodox Church. There are few, if any, other places in this country to see this kind of work being done. Each year we offer tours of the church with talks given by master iconographer, Father Patrick (Doolan) of St. Gregory of Sinai Monastery in Lake County. Many guests return year after year to view the progress that has been made since their last visit. This year we are excited to have our guests see that the dome frescoes have been completed.
Want to know more about Glendi? Check out the great interviews some of our parisioners did with a graduate student from Sonoma State!
We view GLENDI as our gift to the community. GLENDI is our opportunity to share the rich cultural heritage of our parish as we host a grand party for our friends, new and old. It is also a fund raiser, and a portion of the proceeds are donated to local organizations such as Catholic Charities, Redwood Gospel Mission, and COTS.