Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Greek Food Festival of Dallas

Most of the time I write about free or inexpensive travel and entertainment on my blog. That's not the case today. The Greek Food Festival of Dallas is a fundraiser for the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, so everything has a charge. But we had a blast and it was money well spent.

First a little background: My husband and I LOVE Greek food. There are several local Greek restaurants that we frequent. Before we had kids, we had planned a trip to Greece. Then, life happened and we postponed the trip, thinking that we would be able to go in a few years. Then more life happened and we still haven't made it to Greece due to other priorities. Someday we will make it there!

We've known about the Greek Food Festival of Dallas for many years but have never made it there. We don't watch the local news much, so we never hear about the dates and times of local events. By the time we remember to look up the dates of this festival, it has usually past.

Not this year! I wrote it on the calendar. We had considered going as an adults-only date night, but in the end we decided to take our kids and make it a family affair.

We arrived around 4 p.m. on Saturday. The festival is way more popular than I imagined. We parked across the street on the grass in a $5 lot (make sure to bring cash). I bought tickets and some food coupons online prior to leaving, so we picked those up at the Will Call booth and bypassed the ticket lines. Entrance tickets are $6 for adults/teens ages 13 and older and free to kids 12 and under. Food tickets are $1 each, and drinks started at $2 and many food items were $5.

We decided to start with a tour of the church. There was a formal tour happening when we entered, but based on our kids' attention spans, we opted for a self-guided tour.

The church is beautiful.

Then we started to sample the food. We started with an order of loukoumathes, which are dough puffs topped with honey, nuts and cinnamon.

There were some food booths outside and under the huge tent.

We tried the appetizer sampler plate and fried feta bites (yum!)

We also had a Greek salad, Greek potato fries and a gyro sandwich.

And for dessert, baklava sundaes!

There was a small kids area with a playground and a few fundraisers (balloon animals, sand art, face painting). We killed some time on the playground until the next round of dancers was scheduled to go on stage.

We also took some photos with the Greek soldiers:

We went over to the stage area about 10 minutes prior to the scheduled performance time to get a seat. Good thing, because once it started there was standing room only!

Prior to the performance, kids ran around/danced on stage to the Greek music playing. My kids said this was their favorite part of the festival! Dance like no one's watching! (Except for the 100s of people in the audience).

The high-school-aged dancers went on at 6:30 p.m. and danced for about 30 minutes. All I have to say is...Greeks sure now how to party! They look so joyful when they dance, and it got really loud with all the hoopla from the audience! Opa!

After the performance, we got some balloon animals for two of our kids:

And bought some sand art (self-made) for our oldest:
We left around 7:30 p.m. and the crowd was getting thick. More dancers and live bands were scheduled throughout the evening. As we were walking out, the kids asked us if we could return next year. Umm...let me think about it....Yes!

Have you been to this festival?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Preparations for "A Whole New York"

We are leaving soon for our trip to New York City! (See here for the scoop). The kids are super excited. My 4-year-old daughter apparently cannot get the song from Aladdin out of her mind ("A Whole New World"), so she keeps calling New York City "A Whole New York." I've corrected her a few dozen times and explained that it's just New York City, not a whole New York, but the name has stuck and now I'm stuck on it, too.

Our first month of school has been a tough adjustment for the kids and for me, so thinking about our trip and doing some preparations gives us a welcome reprieve from the daily grind.

We found a ton of kids' books at the library about New York City, both fiction and non-fiction. 

I've been studying the subway grid to get an idea of our routes and the most economical tickets.

The kids have been dreaming of which toys they will get at Nintendo World.

I've been fretting about losing our kids in the crowd and researching how to find a bathroom quickly. Luckily, I'm not the only mom who is afraid of not finding a bathroom for her kids, and I've discovered some handy information on this very topic from Mommy Poppins.

I think this trip is going to be brutal on the parents...but a trip we will always remember.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Heritage Association of Frisco Third Sunday Open House

This summer, my kids earned free passes to the Frisco Heritage Museum through the Frisco Library summer reading program.

We have been to this museum before a few times and the museum is good for all ages (see my previous write-up here). Outside of the museum are some historical buildings and replicas maintained by the Heritage Association of Frisco that are only open to the public on the third Sunday of every month. We had never made it to the museum on a third Sunday before, so we decided today would be the day.

In addition to the buildings being open for tours, some other activities were advertised on the website:

SEPTEMBER 20. Third Sunday Open House. Go Team! A spirited event featuring cheerleading demonstrations, face painting, and football toss with local high school athletes. Make a megaphone at our craft table. Enter the coloring contest, watch the blacksmiths work and tour historic structures. Frisco Heritage Center, 1-4 p.m.

The historical buildings and the activities onsite are free to the public during the Third Sunday Open House each month. (The indoor Frisco Heritage Museum charges an admission fee if you don't have the library passes.)

We arrived about 1:30 p.m. and started in the old church. Frisco ISD cheerleaders stood outside of each building explaining what was inside. A Heritage Association volunteer was inside the church to explain its history.

Next, we moved on to an old Victorian house from the late 1800s. Again, we were welcomed by cheerleaders.

The tour guide inside walked us through the downstairs rooms and explained some features of the house (a fireplace in every room, an ice box in the kitchen).

Next, we headed inside another house to the craft table where the kids made some megaphones. More Frisco ISD high-schoolers were on-hand to help.

In a different historic house, we enjoyed an animal presentation by Grisham Farms. We met a bunny, hedgehog, guinea pig, python, chinchilla, two birds and a bearded dragon.

Outside, a cheer team was demonstrating cheers, and high school boys were available for football tossing.

A face painter was inside another building.

The blacksmith shop was open with ongoing demonstrations.

And the jail--the ceiling is only 5'8" high! The location on this site is very close to its original location in Downtown Frisco.

The kids enjoyed playing school in the schoolhouse:

And we spent some time by the trains.

We spent so much time in the historic buildings and doing the activities that we decided to skip the indoor museum and save it for another time.

I was surprised at how few people were at this event! Usually if there is any event that advertises free face painting for kids, the line is out the door.

Check out the free events here in the coming months:

OCTOBER 18. Third Sunday Open House. Pets & Pumpkins! Join us for pumpkin decorating, pumpkin bowling and other games and crafts. Watch square dancers in the old train depot and blacksmiths at their forge. Hear the story of the Crozier house ghost read aloud on the second floor of this Victorian home. Frisco Heritage Center, 1-4 p.m. Animal rescue groups will have adoptable pets that are looking for a home.

NOVEMBER 14. SHAWNEE TRAIL COWBOY DAY. Gather the Herd and come to this rootin’ tootin’ annual event. The good guys and bad guys shoot it out in a dramatic mock gunfight; stagecoach rides; entertainment; petting zoo, and everyone’s favorite ARMADILLO RACES. 11-4pm, Frisco Heritage Center.

NOVEMBER 15. Third Sunday Open House Mayor Maso Mayor Maso will Pardon Tom Turkey at 2 p.m. in the Depot. Join us for hayrides; seasonal games and crafts; live animal show & tell; fiddle music and more at the second annual “Pardoning of Tom Turkey” 1 – 4pm at the Frisco Heritage Center. A lively, fun and FREE event for the whole family.

DECEMBER 20. Santa & Cider. Third Sunday Open House, 1-4pm, Heritage Center. It’s not too late to tell Santa your Christmas wishes. Kids can help make a paper chain to decorate the Heritage Center Christmas tree, and don’t forget the Grinch Dust to be sprinkled in the yard on Christmas Eve. Visitors can enjoy hot apple cider and music in the old Lebanon Church.

Have you been to any of these Third Sunday events at the Frisco Heritage Center? We plan to return for more fun.