Go & Do: St. George celebrates 100th anniversary

Every October, the community gathers to celebrate the Greek Food Festival at St. George Greek Orthodox Church.

What many may not realize in this celebration of food, music and dancing is that the downtown church has been serving Bakersfield for 100 years.

A group of church members, inspired by Harry Chicklenis, decided to hold a celebration on June 1 to recognize the anniversary of purchasing the church land in 1924.

The St. George Greek Orthodox Community 100th Anniversary Celebration will include a reception and church tours followed by dinner then music by Helios, a performance by the St. George Dance Troupe and more dancing.

Annette Londquist, a lifelong member of St. George and chair of the anniversary committee, said the first congregation consisted of many immigrants who had moved to California from the East Coast.

Prior to becoming St. George, the faithful gathered in one another's homes first as the Uplift Society Socrates then the Hellenic Community of Bakersfield.

In 1924 a small hall was built on the property at Truxtun Avenue for religious and social gatherings.

The congregation built a small church behind the hall in 1932 when they have grown to include over 200 families.

By 1944, The Hellenic Community of St. George Greek Orthodox Church was in need of a larger church and so fundraising began. In 1947, the new church was built and the previous building was sold by a group that moved it to Niles and Oswell streets.

The existing Hellenic Hall was built in 1966 and Hellenic Park behind the church was added when a parishioner purchased the land, Londquist said.

The celebration will include some of the church's history but Londquist said they'll stick to hitting the high notes.

"We want it to be fun. It will be brief. We don't want people to fall asleep."

The evening will include hors d'oeuvres and dinner catered by chef Meir Brown.

During the reception, guests can enjoy fresh pita, Turkish salad and vibrant green zehug, falafel, tzaziki and tahini.

Dinner will be served family style with dishes including kleftiko (leg of lamb), chicken souvlaki, rice pilaf, grilled vegetables, hummus, tzatziki, Greek salad (with feta, red onion, greens and olives) and Mediterranean salad.

The St. George Greek Orthodox Community 100th Anniversary Celebration will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner, music and dancing at 7 p.m. June 1 at the church, 401 Truxtun Ave.

Admission is $100 per person. Tickets are available by calling 661-325-8694, emailing stgeosecretary@gmail.com or visiting stgeorgebakersfield.org.