Opah! Brisbane Paniyiri festival officially open


Plate smashing final round 1 at Brisbane Paniyiri on 19 May. Photo by Erin Smith 2012

Australia’s longest running Greek festival, Paniyiri, had a smashing start at South Brisbane’s Musgrave Park yesterday with the controversy and protests surrounding the eviction of the tent embassy earlier in the week long forgotten.

This morning Aboriginal elders and representatives from the Brisbane Indigenous community attended the official opening of the festival.

They performed several traditional dances and highlighted the long standing relationship between Greek Australians and Indigenous Australians.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman helped open the Paniyiri festival this morning and was impressed with the turnout.

“It’s sensational to see what is I reckon a record crowd,” he said

Mr Newman says his government is committed to the needs of the Indigenous community.

“The new state government is totally committed to two things relevant to today, the first is multiculturalism and also the cause of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people,” he said.

After 200 police forcibly evicted the members of the  Aboriginal tent embassy during the week a small number of them relocated to a different area within the park as agreed on by the Brisbane City Council.

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The only signs of the week’s protests was new bark covering where the tents and sacred fire had been set up two months earlier.

On Saturday, Federal Member for Griffith Kevin Rudd visited the Aboriginal Tent embassy before joining in the Greek festivities.

“What we are here to do today with Jackie Trad the local State Member is say loud and clear that here in this community in South Brisbane Greek Australians and Aboriginal Australians have gotten on just fine for decades,” Mr Rudd said.

“Today proves it as well.”

More than 20,000 people walked through the gates on Saturday with mouths watering, eager to get their teeth stuck into some Slovakia and their fingers sticky with honey puffs.

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Hundreds braved the lines at Paniyiri on Saturday Photo: Erin Smith

Rebecca, who travelled all the way from Melbourne to join in the festivities says the best part of Paniyiri is the food.

“The food definitely,” she said.

“I’m pretty partial to the Haloumi.”

She was very impressed with the atmosphere as well.

“The atmosphere it’s just really good.”

Food was not the only think on offer with tours of the Greek Orthodox Church, lectures, traditional Greek music, honey puff making lessons and cooking demonstrations with Packed to the Rafters start George Houvardas.

Around two o’clock on Saturday afternoon several Hellenic Dancers took to the dance floor demonstrating how to Zorba in preparation for the Guinness World Record attempt for the longest Zorba later that night.

Six males and six females deemed to be the best Zorba dancers were picked to compete in the plate smashing competition.

Plaster of paris plates are used in the plate smashing contests Photo: Erin Smith

Plaster of paris plates are used in the plate smashing contests Photo: Erin Smith

The grand final was played out between Lorri and Harry.

Harry says he would be thinking of the Queen while smashing his plates while Lorri, his girlfriend Jenny.

A slip of the hand from Lorri gave Harry the advantage who claimed victory and a trip to Greece.

Final in Saturday's plate smashing competition; Lorry drops his plates. Photo: Erin Smith

The festival finished tonight with a grape stomping competition and a firework display.