For a couple days, it's all Greek down on Chapline Street in Wheeling at the 12th annual Grecian Food Festival.
The Agape dancers tapped their toes in front of an appreciative audience in front of Saint John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church. As America winds down from celebrating Independence day, a priest remembered from where the roots of America came.
"All these nations, they like to enjoy their freedom. And the system that they choose is democracy. The mother of democracy -- is Greece," Fr. Menelas Papageorgiou, a Greek Orthodox priest, said.
Money tossed at the Agape dancers don't compare to the sums being tossed about to bail out the Greek nation. Greece risks running out of cash if it can't secure an over 30-billion euro installment of bailout funds. Thoughts of the old country and its financial problems contrast with the festival fun. One American of Greek descent thinks a solution may come later rather than sooner.
"Greece has no industry to speak of, so tourism is their number one industry. And you see the rioting and the arguments trying to be covered up a little bit, because the peak tourist season is right now from the end of May through August," Dr. Angelo Georges said. Dr. Georges says he bases his opinion partially on what he hears from the Greek-American community with direct ties to Greece, and partially on what his brother who lives overseas, tells him.
Fr. Papageorgiou has a great deal of pride in the nation he left at age 20. He talks about how Greeks really know what it is like to be free, as a nation having been fought over for centuries. "Now they change government. They're starting to establish a strong government to fight the situations, and to be in the right place they belong," he said.
This celebration of Greek food, religion, and, culture in America also reflected values perhaps out of place in the old country, as far as one observer was concerned.
"I look at all four of my grandparents who came over with nothing," Dr. Georges continued, "that worked so hard over there and also over here, to provide for my parents -- who lived through the depression -- as many of my colleagues have and many of my fellow Greek-Americans have, to provide a better life for me, and it seems like the cycle is completely reversed now, and nobody wants to make the tough choices over there."
The Grecian Food Festival in Wheeling continues through July 8th. As for the financial bailout of Greece, it's hard to tell.