‘Dream come true’: Crowds enjoy inaugural Cyprus Halloumi Festival in Brisbane

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Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, was turned into the ultimate Cypriot experience on Saturday, September 3.

From the aromas of fresh halloumi being cooked and sheftalies being grilled, to the soothing sounds of live music and traditional dance performances, the inaugural Cyprus Halloumi Festival had it all.

Organised by the Cypriot Community Association of Queensland, 5,000 people passed through West End’s Cyprus House to celebrate the history, culture and traditions of Cypriot people.

Among the attendees were His Grace Bishop Emilianos of Meloa; Queensland’s Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Tourism, and Olympics and Paralympics, Mr David Chrisafulli MP; and Greens Minister for South Brisbane, Dr Amy MacMahon; as well as many others.

The President of the Cypriot Association, Stathis Zambis, told The Greek Herald the event was a huge success.

“The Cypriot community has been here in Queensland since the 1940s and this festival celebrates our unique country and our unique culture and history,” Mr Zambas said.

“I’ve been the president for the past 10 years and it’s been my dream to have the festival for our community. Saturday was a dream come true.”

Attendees took part in halloumi and loukoumades-eating competitions, as well as live demonstrations of halloumi-making and browsed displays of Cypriot items people had brought from home.

“We used half a ton of halloumi on the day and 200 kilos of flour to make the loukoumades. We also had more than 100 volunteers help us on the day which was a huge shock,” Mr Zambas said.

“It was a very successful event and we couldn’t do it without our volunteers. We’re just so proud that we were able to promote our culture and pass on our customs to the new generations of Cypriots living in Queensland.”

In a speech at the event, the Shadow Minister for Tourism, Mr Chrisafulli, said the festival was a celebration of the things that drive Cyprus and make it “a wonderful nation: faith, food and family.”

“You left a homeland for a better opportunity for your kids and you got it,” he told the Cypriots in attendance.

“You’re here for your community and you’re here because you want to share your culture and make sure that this generation understands the sacrifices that the one before made.

“I look forward to coming back next year and enjoying this for years to come.”

Greens Minister for South Brisbane, Dr MacMahon, also gave a speech and congratulated the Cypriot Association for their organisation of the event and continued service to the community.

“You have been doing such a great job to not only put on this event today but to be a huge part of this community here for many decades,” she said.

“You are an important part of the community, of the multiculturalism and the rich culture we have here in West End.”

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