PORTSMOUTH For 44 years, the members of St. Nicholas Church have been inviting Seacoast residents to "Be Greek for a Day."

The St. Nicholas Festival is an event watched for each year, and not only for the Greek community. The two-day celebration is a chance for people to learn more about the Greek culture through a marketplace offering traditional Greek products, through music, jewelry, crafts and dancing. The real draw, the one people wait for each year, is the food.

Offerings include moussaka, lamb shanks, spanakopita and more. Greek pastries like baklava and galaktoboureko could be purchased separately or in sampler boxes for a taste of each delicacy.

"It's so much fun to be here and to showcase our ethnic pride," said long-time church member Nancy Notis. "We love the opportunity to have the community join us."

The Greek marketplace offered products straight from Greece, and if you needed any help choosing, Marilyn Zotos was on hand to help.

"All the Greek market products are wonderful," said Zotos. "The proceeds from the sales support our Sunday school students.

Zotos had a taste testing area set up for people wanting a sample of the items. She also had a wealth of knowledge and told people creative ideas of how to use the items.

"This is how I make salad dressing," said Zotos. "I put in our pure olive oil in a jar. I add a pinch of Greek oregano. Once you try it you will never buy anything else. I add some red wine or balsalmic vinegar and a teaspoon of kalamata olive spread. Finish by crumbling in some feta cheese and it is delicious. It transforms your salad."

Zotos also educated people about real, true pure olive oil, which she says is not what you might be buying in the grocery store.

"Watch for it to say blended," said Zotos. That can mean it includes olives from Italy, Greek and other places. The ones we are selling are pure, from one source. That is pure olive oil."

Some of the marketplace items are available all year round, as the church maintains a small grocery section. But, Father Robert Archon said the selection is vastly enhanced for the festival.

"We offer a taste of Greece here today," said Archon.

Helen Rizza and Nikki Savramis were among the servers of the wonderful dinners. All the food is made by members of the church, under the watchful eye of Matoula Miminas, age 75, and owner of Town Pizza in Kittery.

Rich Rizza, Helen's husband, coordinates the festival, fine tuning it to what looks like an effortless event.

"We started planning at the end of 2018," said Rizzi. "The last few weeks here are a flurry of activity. We all love the festival."

The event continues Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Details at portsmouthgreekfestival.com, 603-918-6161 or GreekFestivalPortsmouth@gmail.com.