Out of an abundance of safety and caution, with the threat of Eastern Equine Encephalitis reaching critical levels across the SouthCoast, the 2019 Annual Greek Food Festival at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Dartmouth has been called off.

This is the first time the popular cultural event has had to be suspended; however, with the severity of the looming mosquito threat, it was decided that the well-being of the community came first.

The parish has been praying for the family and friends of Laurie Sylvia of Fairhaven, a mother and grandmother, who recently passed away from the mosquito-borne EEE virus.

Every year, the St. George parishioners have pitched in to prepare, cook and welcome thousands of people who looked forward to the three-day event, enjoying everything from roasted leg of lamb, mousaka, pastichio and gyro to homemade baklava and fine Greek pastry.

The Greek Food Festival has been the church's largest fundraiser of the year, that has helped offset their mortgage and other expenses. And culturally, the festival has been a way to show the traditions of the Orthodox Church and the Greek traditions that date back thousands of years.

Small faith communities of every denomination have faced increasing financial challenges and have depended upon events like this to help defray expenses.

There will be other bake sales, luncheons and the such to help make up for the cancellation of this yearly festival. The Ladies Philoptochos Society is planning a sale of their handmade Greek pastry and desserts just before Thanksgiving. We'll keep you posted. Until then, stay safe and healthy, and God Bless you all.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.