VICTORIA -- The popular Victoria Greek Fest has announced that it will continue this year, but will be doing things differently due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions.

This year’s Greek Fest will feature online ordering and drive-thru pick up for your favourite foods, instead of the traditional sit-down meals that were featured in previous years.

“We’re very excited; It’s taken a little while to try and figure out what we were going to be doing,” said Tim Petropoulos, president of Victoria’s Greek Community.

“You have to order online, so you can pre-order your orders and you get a time slot and a date that you’re able to pick up,” he said.

The annual festival celebrates Greek culture and offers delicious food favourites like authentically roasted lamb prepared according to tradition, souvlaki, spanakopita, baklava and loukomades. Organizers say to bring your appetite.

Keeping Greek Fest going this year was important to the local community, says Petropoulos.

“For the Greek community it’s one of our main fundraisers, but as a community we always want to reach out to the greater community, talk about our culture, get everyone to understand and enjoy our food,” he said.

Unfortunately, this year, entertainment like live music and dancing has been dropped and there is no where to sit and eat your freshly prepared food due to the health and safety restrictions.

Although the event will only allow for a quick drive-thru pick up, organizers recommend exploring all the scenic beauty that Elk and Beaver Lake have to offer, which are only minutes away from the Greek Community Centre.

Organizers suggest finding a family picnic destination, physically distanced from other groups, to enjoy your Greek food and make a day of it.

Those interested in Greek culture can still visit the heritage exhibit at the Greek Community Centre. Tours will be offered by online reservation, allowing small groups to maintain physical distancing and health precautions. The local exhibit explores the history of Greece and Greeks in B.C.

Greek Fest 2020 says that with the help of Island Health, it is prioritizing a safe and healthy environment to align with all necessary COVID-19 related precautions.

Health and safety-conscious procedures have been specifically designed to allow for easy, contactless food pick up to keep the beloved community tradition alive during these unprecedented times, say festival organizers.

Greek Fest will be held at the Greek Community Centre, located at 4648 Elk Lake Dr. in Saanich. The centre’s parking lot can accommodate roughly 50 cars at a time for food pick up.

Last year’s event drew 23,500 Victorians to the celebration, and Petropoulos hopes this year will be just as successful with their new drive-thru model.

Greek fest runs during the next two weekends, from Aug. 28 to 30 and from Sept. 4 to 7, between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Further information can be found on the Greek Fest website or by calling 250-727-1580.