Opa!Homa offered diverse food options, including gyros and Greek salad. photo by Brennen Gray

Opa!Homa festival brings Greek culture to Tulsa

The four day festival offers visitors an experience of Greek food, music and dance.

The sounds of the keyboard and mandolins could be heard from streets away. The smell of the gyro and tzatziki permeated all of the surrounding neighborhoods. This could only mean one thing: Opa!Homa!

Tulsa’s four-day Greek festival came as a lovely surprise to me! Having studied abroad in Greece the summer after my freshman year at TU, I have a deep love and appreciation for all things Greek. After studying in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece after Athens, I really got to be immersed in Greek culture and this different way of life.I was more than ecstatic to get to experience that again.

Upon arrival, I immediately acquired an Opacolada (a twist on the original pina colada, as it was made with ouzo). My friends and I made our way around to check out all of the different food vendors. I settled on a Greek Salad, while others chose gyro sandwiches and Greek fries. Once we were all seated under the main tent, we drank, ate and enjoyed the music we’d heard walking in and around the festival.

Accompanying me to Oklahoma’s little slice of the Mediterranean was none other than Collegian editors Brennen Gray and Ethan Veenker, as well as Veenker’s lovely girlfriend, Sam. We entered the festival as regular students, but left dancers and performers. Given that we went to the event at 8:30 p.m. on a Thursday, the festival wasn’t very crowded. This only made us more able to let loose and enjoy ourselves. We definitely weren’t shy in cheering on the musicians and clapping along to the beat, but I don’t think any of us expected the two mandolin players to come down off the stage and perform atop our table. We certainly didn’t expect to be serenaded by our secret-Mandolin aficionado Ethan Veenker when one of the Greek musicians placed his instrument around his neck.

Given that we had just bonded with these incredible Mandolin players, it seemed fitting that we would hop right up on the stage and dance like fools. Keeping the surprises of the evening going, a nice festival worker joined us and began to teach us a traditional Greek line dance. Holding hands and jumping in a circle had us all grinning from ear to ear. Perhaps because the festival was coming to a close for the evening, or perhaps more probably because we were making complete fools of ourselves, the Greek music came to a grinding halt and was replaced by perhaps the most western dance anthem of the 21st Century: The Wobble.

After depleting the last remaining energy I had, I settled up with a dozen pieces of baklava and other assorted Greek desserts and made my way back to my car. I then took my copious assortment of sweet treats over to my friend Cheyenne’s on campus apartment where we continued the delights from the festival. I am so disappointed that it took me three years of being in Tulsa to learn about this festival, but every part of this evening put me right back in Thessaloniki and brought me together with my friends for a truly lovely night, which pretty much makes up for it.

Post Author: Tori Gellman