The Greek Festival returns to Columbus on Labor Day weekend with its traditional lineup of homespun fare and celebration of Hellenic culture.

The Greek Festival returns to Columbus on Labor Day weekend with its traditional lineup of homespun fare and celebration of Hellenic culture.

Long considered the last summer celebration of the year, the festival will be held Aug. 31 through Sept. 3 on the grounds of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 555 N. High St. in downtown Columbus.

The festival celebrates its 40th anniversary this year while the church marks 100 years in Columbus.

"We've grown as central Ohio has grown," said Stacey Stathulis, a festival spokesman.

"We have almost 900 families in our community, and the geography of those families is diverse," he said.

"We serve a significant parish population."

Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; noon to midnight Sunday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday. Tickets, good for all four days of the festival, are $5 and $4 for senior citizens. Children age 11 and younger will be admitted free.

As the festival has grown, so has the church's charitable outreach.

In the last 12 years, the church has given away more than a quarter of a million dollars to many central Ohio charities, including the Mid-Ohio FoodBank, Flying Horse Farms and A Kid Again, Stathulis said.

The homemade food is an unmistakable draw, offering more formal meals, such as the lamb roast, moussaka and pastitsio, to more casual street fare, including loukaniko, gyros and Greek pizzas.

There will be several vegetarian options, although no vegan choices, such as the tiropita, spanakopita, Greek salads and lemon potatoes.

"The food is the thing," Stathulis said. "There's no doubt about it."

Patrons can participate in Greek folk dancing, complemented by the Hellenic Singers.

A larger selection of arts and crafts will be available this year, as well as a wide assortment of Greek bath and beauty items.

There's also a "green" element to the festival this year.

Eartha Limited will recycle food scraps and cooking oil, using the former for compost and turning the latter into bio-diesel.

In addition, recycling stations located throughout the festival grounds will accept bottles, cans and glass.

Cathedral tours will provide visitors a chance to experience the Greek Orthodox religion, organizers said.

Visiting monks from the St. Theodore monastery will hold an evening prayer service each evening of the festival weekend.

"We're not just sharing our culture," said John Bizios, president of the parish council. "It's also an opportunity to share our faith as well."