The Halloumi Festival returned to Melbourne, Victoria this weekend, bringing once more the Cypriot community together. The festival had a bit of everything from dances to traditional songs, loukoumades and of course, a lot of halloumi.
The festival was organised by the Cyprus Community of Melbourne and Victoria.
Cypriots of all ages arrived at Brunswick for the two-day event and could be seen tasting the food and celebrating their culture with excitement.
“This event is pleasant because you can meet up with old friends you haven’t seen all year,” one group of old Cypriot migrants to Australia told The Greek Herald at the festival.
“There are many people that come here for the special Cyprus dishes.”
Nearby stood Aspasia and Ilias, a couple that came to Australia from Cyprus about 60 years ago. They said they were attending a community event for the first time in years and were impressed.
On the day, there were halloumi eating competitions, an impressive cooking demonstration of how to make halloumi, dances by the Pegasus Dance Academy and live music from Aetos band.
During the official speeches, the President of the Cyprus Community, Theo Theophanous, spoke to the public and emphasised the Cypriot origin of halloumi.
“We want everyone who goes to a café and orders halloumi to know that it is from Cyprus,” Mr Theophanous said.
In his speech, Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta said: “This is a holy moment to be again all together in one place to celebrate our culture and our traditions.”
The Deputy Head of Mission at the Cyprus High Commission in Australia, Stavros Nicolaou, was also present at the festival and said: “Halloumi is the main element of our culture, the element that brings us together. It expresses the Cypriot soul and brings together the Cypriot family.”
Dimitris Tsilikis, who represented the Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, said that “when halloumi is not there on the food table, it is like water is out of home.”
Federal Labor MP, Peter Khalil, promised to bring some halloumi to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese when he visited Canberra next and highlighted the Cypriot community’s success story.
“You have all here – your parents, your grandparents – built something very special in this country,” Mr Khalil said.
The President of the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM), Bill Papastergiadis OAM, also spoke on the day and said he would work with Mr Theophanous to bring to Australia the Cypriot singer and politician, Michalis Chatzigiannis. Mr Papastergiadis also promised that the Apollon football club will take part in next year’s Greek Community Cup.
“We are and will always be by your side,” he concluded.
All photos copyright: The Greek Herald / Giorgos Psomiadis