BUCKHANNON — The West Virginia Strawberry Festival is filled with music, lights and food. The residents of Buckhannon can always expect live bands, the carnival, three parades — and Dimitri Sakellariadis selling his homemade, authentic Greek food.
Sakellariadis is originally from Athens, Greece, but he grew up in Canada and the United States. While he describes his work as a way of life, serving up food at fairs and festivals was not the first profession Sakellariadis dabbled in.
“It had to be a way of life,” Sakellariadis said. “I had a clothing business before, [and] eventually a sports bar business that went bankrupt. I started all over again, and this was a good thing to do at the time.”
Sakellariadis learned to cook from his parents, but the style he implements these days comes from his experience cooking at festivals and carnivals.
“I go all over the country doing this,” Sakellariadis said. “I start in Florida and go all the way up to Minnesota [and] Michigan, which is where I got most of my practice from — and learning from the old timers like my parents.”
Sakellariadis has been traveling with festivals for 14 years and has been taking part in the W.Va. Strawberry Festival for 12 years. He said the people keep drawing him back.
“It’s always good here,” Sakellariadis said. “My customers are regulars, they wait for me to come back, and that’s how it works in most places. But here I’m a little more popular than anywhere else.”
While he is in Buckhannon and the weather is good, customers come to Sakellariadis’s stand for lunch and dinner everyday, and that is the most rewarding part of his work.
“ I see a lot of satisfied people because they are happy with the quality of the food I put out, so they keep coming back,” he said.
The only part of the work he said he could do without is putting up and taking down his stand, called Greek To Me. The stand offers kabob, shrimp jambalaya, gyros and many mixed platters that customers can request, such as the seafood combination platter, sampler platter or the chicken and beef. For dessert he offers spanakopita and baklava.
The Strawberry Festival food court, where Greek To Me can be found, is open today and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight.