By Thomas Mantzakides
Photos by Thomas Mantzakides and John Anastasiadis

Canton, OH – For the 2nd consecutive year, Pontian Greek youth from across North America gathered to celebrate their ancestral culture and folk customs on Father’s Day weekend, June 15-17th. The youth festival, held under the auspices of the Pan Pontian Federation of the USA-Canada, was hosted by the Canton, Ohio “Komninoi” Society and featured musicians, a lecturer, and dance instructors from both North America and Greece.

The weekend featured a little of something for everyone – a BBQ event on Friday night followed by music and dancing, a lecture exploring what it means to be Pontian in America, and dance workshops that taught the history, style, and cross-cultural influences of several dances from Pontos. (The aforementioned events took place at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.) An exhibit by Professor Konstantin Fotiadis documenting the genocide of the Pontian Greeks was supplemented by tables displaying books about Pontian Greek history.

The grand banquet on Saturday night was held at St. George Orthodox Church. In recognition of the “Komninoi” Society’s 90th anniversary this year, several former Presidents were honored by the current President of the Society, Steven Poulos. Several members of other Pontian associations, as well as the organizing committee from Canton, Ohio, were also recognized for their efforts and contributions to preserving Pontian culture. One of the evening’s major highlights came when all the participating dance troupes entered the dance floor from different points before coming together in a circle that symbolized the strength and unity of a common cultural bond. The junior dance troupes of Canton and Cleveland then provided a small taste of the performances that were to follow the next day.

Sunday began with a church service at Holy Trinity Church. Later in the day, the theatrical play “Made in the USA” by Vasiliki Tsanatskidou was performed. The play was then followed by dance performances from the dance troupes of Canton, Norwalk, New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Toronto. Finally, the weekend came to a close with another entertaining night of high energy Pontian music and dancing which both thrilled the youth and left them hungering for the next opportunity to rekindle their friendships while honoring their cherished culture.