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Greek confections a must-have at St. Vasilios biannual bake sale

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WATERTOWN — In the days leading up to the biannual St. Vasilios Greek pastry sale Saturday, a schedule of pastry preparation was available on the church’s website.

For Amber L. Spinks, of Croghan, that solidified her resolve to visit the bake sale for the first time.

“I was reading online about how they would prepare for weeks and weeks. ‘On Monday we would be making Baklava for two days’ ‘and sweet breads on Thursday,’” she said. “I was really excited to see what the selection would be, and it’s a lot.”

According to Olga M. Thomas, church choir director and organist, some pastries were prepared as early as Valentine’s Day as church members had to bake 8,500 pastries and anticipated a lot of orders.

A sign outside the church advertised “Bake Sale: Saturday only,” and it appeared most guests knew it. It’s one reason why Faith E. VanEpps came out as early as she did.

The Watertown resident was urged to be there before the 9 a.m. start in her daughter Suzanne’s absence.

“That’s why she got me up here early. You’d be surprised; they go fast,” Ms. VanEpps said. “They have two long tables in there just loaded with pastries full of nuts.”

The two have attended each year for the past five years, but this was the first time Ms. VanEpps came alone while her daughter was working.

“I could maybe do with one, but she’s just crazy about them. She has to have them,” she said.

Many people, such as Ms. VanEpps and Ms. Spinks, came for the baklava — a sugary delight of phyllo dough, honey and chopped nuts. But also on the menu were flutes, kataifi, fenekia, kourambiethes, koulourakia and sweet bread.

The doors were set to open at 9 a.m., but with a line of nearly 20 people forming, customers were allowed in almost 10 minutes early. The basement room filled in seconds. Volunteers joked with guests about how a dentist would react to the sweet-tooth toothache.

The wait to make a purchase was less than 10 minutes. Some orders were just a few dollars, while some went as high as $400. Chairwoman Christina Thomas said orders came in from all over the country, and some packages would be shipped overseas to deployed family members.

The Greek bake sale began in the 1930s, Ms. Thomas said, before the church, 502 Franklin St., was constructed. It moved into the church in the 1960s. The church holds the sales twice per year, once just before Christmas and again just before Easter. Robert J. and Virginia M. Burnham, Smithville, said they come every year in part for the desserts and the Easter tradition, but also to help the church.

“It tastes so good ... and it’s a nice organization. The church is a nice place to help out with a fundraiser,” he said.

Proceeds from the bake sale cover general operating expenses and the salary of the church’s part-time priest.


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