From souvlaki to stories: Pipeworks Market transforms for Greek Festival

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Sizzling souvlaki aromas mingled with the sounds of lively Greek music for the Greek Festival at Pipeworks Market in Thomastown, Victoria on the weekend.

Crowds slowly trickled through, but more than 30 stalls of Greek interest – handpicked for the Greek Festival – were bursting with unique stories.

Cypriot sisters Eva Charalampous and Soula Dimitriadis, originally from Limassol, found a renewed purpose for their love of knitting at the market.

Sisters Olga and Soula turned their hobby into a business and are regulars at the market.
Sisters Olga and Soula turned their hobby into a business and are regulars at the market. All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Mary Sinanidis.

“One day I saw Soula’s house overflowing with knits,” Eva explains. “I said, ‘What are you doing? Why don’t we try selling them?'” That’s how their venture selling knitwear, which began at Pipeworks Markets last November, came to be.

The sisters, now residing in Mill Park (Soula) and Melton (Eva), use their weekends to connect at their stall.

The Cyprus Time family took to the market and catering route after their restaurant burnt down.
Pipeworks Markets in Thomastown covers a vast area.
Plenty of Greek music to keep people entertained.
The Kritsilidis family came to the markets at their daughter’s suggestion.
The Polykarpou family enjoy lunch.
Working the souvla.

“It’s a much better way to catch up than just having coffee at home,” Eva says. “The kids are supportive, and my daughter even helps sew linings and wants us to go online.”

Soula adds, “We’ve also met Christina and Maria, who sell candles and artwork at the stall next to us. We always have a good laugh together.”

Next aisle down, Nick Gnafakis from Niko’s Garden proudly displays a photo of his Cretan grandfather surrounded by herbs and spices.

“As a young boy, I remember pappou’s passion for gardening,” he reminisces. “I would join him.”

Nick, a chef who values fresh produce, created Niko’s Garden to share his appreciation for quality ingredients with others. He offers a wide variety, including spices, herbs, mountain teas, vegetables, and more. His dedication to quality is so strong, he sometimes gives produce away, as he did to a surprised Cypriot couple he gifted a celery plant.

Niko is a chef who entered the world of gardening by watching his pappou. He now shares his knowledge with others.
Niko is a chef who entered the world of gardening by watching his pappou. He now shares his knowledge with others.

Cretan hospitality was on full display at the festival, a true testament to the Greek spirit at Pipeworks.

Bilingual children’s author Panagiota Andreadakis started writing about Greek cultural and religious traditions, concerned we would lose our Greek identity.

“Since having my son, I wanted to keep our traditions alive,” she says. “These books, which I started writing three years ago, are selling very well.”

Panagiota’s success has led her to expand her offerings with activity books and flashcards.

Bilingual author Panagiota Andreadakis shares Greek culture and religion with children.
Bilingual author Panagiota Andreadakis shares Greek culture and religion with children.

Another mother, Marianne Kontosis, created i2kids over ten years ago when she couldn’t find engaging books to teach her daughters Greek.

“I couldn’t find them, so I bought them myself,” she explains. “The business has grown from there.”

Marianne offers a message of hope for those concerned about the decline in Greek language learning. Rather than shrink, she has expanded her online store to support local authors and now offers books in ten languages.

Marianne Kontosis and Ellen, her daughter, bring an array of books to the festival
Marianne Kontosis and Ellen, her daughter, bring an array of books to the festival.

Her eldest daughter, Ellen, remembers growing up surrounded by books.

“Mum dragged me to Greek school, but I always enjoyed having all the books at home,” Ellen says. “My favourite was the Mr Men series.”

Between bursts of energy at the jumping castle, children gravitated towards the Greek Community of Melbourne’s booth where Vicky Petala taught them about the Olympic Games.

The focus was on the Olympic Games at the Greek Community of Melbourne's stall.
The focus was on the Olympic Games at the Greek Community of Melbourne’s stall.

A touch of international flair came from Albanian-born Niko, known by everyone as “Bingo Cappuccino.” Charming everyone with multilingual greetings, he pulled out traditional Greek lollies from his pocket, boasting, “I speak 26 languages!” His flawless Greek stems from growing up with Greek friends from Northern Epirus close to the Greek border.

Everyone calls him Bingo Capuccino, but his name is Niko, and he learned to speak Greek from Northern Epirots when he lived in Albania
Everyone calls him Bingo Capuccino, but his name is Niko, and he learned to speak Greek from Northern Epirots when he lived in Albania.

The festival also served as a nod to the Greek heritage of the Dimarelos family, who purchased Pipeworks Market a year ago.

“It’s been a learning experience,” admits Peter Dimarelos, who co-runs the market with his father Apostolis and brother Angelo. Together they also continue to run their family kitchen-making business, Easiform.

Peter Dimarelos is a Councillor, business coach, father of three and co-owns a kitchen-making business as well as these markets, tinged with a Greek flavour.
Peter Dimarelos is a Councillor, business coach, father of three and co-owns a kitchen-making business as well as these markets, tinged with a Greek flavour.

The family revived the popular Pipeworks Market after its closure in Campbellfield in 2013.

“We knew a market just selling new products wouldn’t work,” Peter explains. “People want a fun day out with family, a chance to learn about different cultures. That’s why we celebrated Eid, are having this Greek Festival, and have plans for more festivities, including our birthday celebration at the end of this month.”

Peter, a father of three, understands the importance of family. Community spirit is also important to him, as evidenced by his current term as Councillor at Banyule Council. The markets are an extension of these values and his passion for business coaching.

“We’re looking at what works in the area,” he says, highlighting the market’s advantages: ample parking, a covered area, and spaciousness that allows people to relax and enjoy their lunch.

A Chinese thumbs up for a Greek day.
Bouncing up and down to the music with baby.
Byzantine-inspired wares with an Istanbul flavour.
Cyprus Time gyros.
Eleni Papantoniou is a staff member of the markets.
Friends and family enjoy a fun meal together.
Learning Greek through play.
Loukoumades are always a favourite dessert at Greek events.

“It’s all about having fun and connecting,” he concludes. “Whether it’s enjoying delicious food, listening to traditional music, or learning something new about another culture, Pipeworks Market strives to bring the community together.”

*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Mary Sinanidis.

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