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International Festival

A seasonal tradition in the Valley

PHARR, Texas – Every Saturday since September, parishioners and friends of St. George Orthodox Church in Pharr have been cooking up vast quantities of handmade baklava and other international food delicacies, preparing for this year’s International Festival.

Held on the 2nd Saturday of December each year, the International Festival is a much-anticipated holiday event for the local community, families with children and Winter Texans alike. This year’s Festival will be on Saturday, December 14th, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at St. George Orthodox Church, 704 W. Sam Houston in Pharr.  It features the sale of a variety of homestyle foods and beverages from around the world, including Greece and Eastern Europe, as well vendors selling fine handcrafted gifts, handmade soap, local honey, preserves, pickles and more.

With free entry, parking, children’s activities and a wide variety of music and dance performances, there’s always something for everyone to see and do.  The festival is a fun, educational event for the entire family. Activities and information will be shared by the Museum of South Texas History, the McAllen Public Library, South Texas Border Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists, Deep South Texas Master Gardeners, UTRGV CHAPS, Milkweed & Monarchs and more. While you shop, purchase some native host and nectar plants to attract butterflies to your yard.

Our favorite RGV Bluegrass music returns to this year’s festival.  The day’s entertainment includes holiday favorites from the wonderful UTRGV Tuba and Euphonium Quartet as well as the much-beloved Edinburg Folklorica dancers and the Mariachi Nueva Tradicion. Returning to the festival stage will be the talented colibrí children’s choir. The last performance of the day will be the South Texas Indian Dancers, led by Robert Soto. The entire, exciting entertainment and activity schedule can be found at: stgeorgetxfestival.com/entertainment.html

The Festival is a great place for holiday shopping. Pick up some unique items created by local artisans, handicraft and farmers market vendors. Everything from local honey and preserves, bags of specialty coffee from Mexico, to handmade soap, beeswax candles, Eastern European folkart and handcrafted wood items will be available.  Take a free guided tour of St. George Orthodox Church and the learn about the lovely icons, an ancient liturgical artform. Children can decorate homemade gingerbread cookies, create holiday crafts, go “fishing” and also learn about local history and culture.

Whether you like fire-grilled skewers of Greek souvlaki, delectable pastitcio, savory spanakopita or stuffed grape leaves, or if you prefer Eastern European piroghies, blini or cabbage rolls, there is sure to be something you’ll love to eat. A limited supply of vegan and vegetarian options are available for many of these foods. A large tent-covered area with tables and chairs provided a comfortable area for dining. Frozen versions of many international specialties are also available – for you to take home and enjoy later.  Bring a cooler along in the car!  Besides baklava, baked goods from around the world will make your mouth water. These make great holiday and party gifts.  International soups – both vegan and with meat – are one of the festival favorites. Some people even take soups home to enjoy another day. Try soup with a warm German-style bierock on the side.

Want to just sit a while and watch the performances?  Pick up some Russian tea, Greek coffee and some straddle, baklava or other special baked goods from the Russian Tea Shoppe, you’ll be ready to visit with friends, relax and enjoy. Freshly baked scones and muffins start out the morning, so come early – spend the day!

Another reason for the festival is a food and fundraiser for the very active St. George Food Pantry, which serves over 115 families.  Bring monetary donations, canned goods, non-perishables, new or lightly used blankets, coats or children’s clothing and receive a homemade cookie as a “thank you” at this annual “Give a Can; Get a Cookie” campaign.

Not able to come on festival day, or just want to pre-purchase frozen items so you can just enjoy festival day without having to keep food frozen? Call 956-358-8875 to make arrangements to come “shop” before the event at a time when people are working at the church. To learn more about the festival, see their website at: stgeorgetxfestival.com/index.html or on Facebook at: facebook.com/St.GeorgeInternationalFestival/

 

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