Photos and report by Peter Tantalos.
The Cyprus Community Festival, held on February 4 – 5 this year, celebrated its 9th year of festivities on the shore of the river Torrens.
Organised by the Cyprus Community of South Australia Inc, the festival is aimed at welcoming all communities to participate in Hellenic and Cypriot culture, celebrating the rich tapestry of diverse cultures in SA.
Over the two-day event, an anticipated 5,000 attendees were drawn to the festival to participate in the rich musical and dance performances, the culinary delights and to experience traditional Cypriot culture.
The festival kicked off on Saturday with an opening ceremony, paving the way for a weekend of lively celebrations. Dr Andreas Evdokiou, President of the Cypriot Community of SA, opened by thanking all those supporting the festival and all the 70 volunteers who dedicated their time to make the event possible.
“These festivals are the opportunity that we get to be proud of our heritage and be proud that we are Hellenes… we are here to enjoy everything that is Cypriot, our food, our wine, our beer [and] our loukoumades,” Dr Evdokiou said.
“Don’t forget, we are also here to remember that 50 years ago, Turkey invaded Cyprus back in 1974. Turkey continues to occupy Cyprus illegally, and we are here, and hoping, that one day, Cyprus will be free and united.”
Building on the comments of Dr Evdokiou, the Consul General of Greece in Adelaide George Psiachas added: “Greece will never forget. Greece will always be with you.”
“The Cypriot national anthem is also the Greek national anthem (being the poem by the poet Dionysios Solomos)… We have the same anthem because evidently Greeks from Cyprus and Greeks from the mainland are together in unity… They are always together, supporting each other, and always will be…” the Consul General added.
A special guest in attendance this year was the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in Australia, Antonis Sammoutis, who expressed his deep admiration for the Cypriot community in SA.
“I am thankful to all of you for not forgetting Cyprus and our 9,000 years of history. Not just the kitchen, but our dances, language and traditions. I am so proud of you, being a model for Australians… and all that you have achieved in this beautiful country, and at the same time not having forgotten Cyprus,” Mr Sammoutis said.
Finally, SA Minister for the Arts Andrea Michaels MP, of Cypriot descent, expressed her cultural pride in celebrating at the festival this year.
“My story started in Cyprus in a very tiny village in the North [of the Island]. It is a very proud moment to be here to celebrate the 2024 Cyprus festival. It’s an opportunity for us to feel proud of our culture and history and it’s fantastic to see people very young to our elders – fantastic to see all the generations here passionate about our Cypriot culture and keeping it strong,” Ms Michaels said.
During the festival’s two-day span, approximately 150 dancers participated in a variety of cultural dance groups.
The line-up included performances by the Cyprus Community of SA (performing iconic Cypriot traditional dances like the ‘Tatsia’ and the ‘Drepani’), the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia Dance Group, the Messinian Dance School of SA, the Greek Lyceum of SA Dance Group, the Cretan Association of SA Dance Group, the Pontian Brotherhood of SA Dance Group, and the Port Adelaide Greek Dance Academy.
Their performances showcased the wide array of classical folk dances and providing festival goers with an insight and connection to Hellenic culture and heritage.
With the conclusion of the performances, each night the Kosmos Band and the acclaimed Maria Maroulis captivated attendees with an enthusiastic performance of traditional and modern Greek music, encouraging dancing among festivalgoers and creating unforgettable evenings of community celebration.
Special guests and dignitaries attending included Antonis Sammoutis, High Commissioner for the Republic of Cyprus in Australia; Andrea Michaels MP, SA Minister for the Arts, Small and Family Business, and Consumer and Business Affairs, representing Peter Malinauskas MP, Premier of South Australia; Jing Lee MLC, representing the Leader of the SA Opposition David Speirs MP; Steve Georganas, Member for Adelaide; Connie Bonaros MLC; Frank Pangallo MLC; the Consul General of Greece for Adelaide, George Psiachas; Mayor of the City of West Torrens, Michael Coxon; Bishop Silouan of Sinope, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia (South Australia); and President of the Inter-communities Council of SA, Dr Vladimir Devrelis.