Live Review: Paniyiri 2009 – Greek Celebration delights Brisbane.

Author: Lisa Lamb

paniyiri   After being forced to take a raincheck in May due to extreme weather, Paniyiri, Queensland’s signature celebration of all things Greek, took over Musgrave Park and The Greek Club, South Brisbane in a spectacular showcase of Hellenic hospitality on the weekend of July 4 and 5.

If Paniyiri doesn’t make you want to jump on a plane to Athens nothing will! From the moment you arrive your senses are accosted by the tantalising smells of souvlaki and moussaka and other Greek delights, with over thirty food stalls plus a full program of traditional cooking demonstrations in the Greek Club headlined by celebrity chef Vasili Kanidiadis from SBS’s Vasili’s Garden, will uncover the recipes and secrets behind quintessential Greek dishes. Not to mention all that ouzo, most of it very reasonably priced.

The ZORBA TILL YOU DROP is one of the highlights of the event featuring over 100 dancers in varying heats, this is a great way to encourage multiculturalism as the dance is very easy, but also at times quite fast, which usually separates the amateurs from the pros, last year’s competition was won by Greek salsa dancer Antonio, who really had style and grace, as well as the crowd on his side, it was surprising he was not included as a celebrity judge this year. This year was won by Australian bartender Shelly, thus proving you don’t have to dance Zorba from the time you are four, anyone can pick it up.

This was followed by Raven haired Nerissa the Peloponnesian Princess performing a Tsifteteli Greek belly dance which was stunning and the Greek Goddess herself Effie delighting the crowd, plus oversized Xena and Hercules who moved much more gracefully then the “Celebrity” version of So you think you can dance Greek Style, which included a bunch of wanna bes who need the publicity, boring nobodies who were thrown of TV shows, sports stars and Jess from channel seven. Occasionally interspersed with someone of real talent such as Anna Maria La Spina, who sang with Savage Garden on two world tours.

2009 Paniyiri set a new record after an hour achieving over 20,000 visitors. It was an amazing festival featuring some stunning talent and a piece of history. While the Greeks may be famed for their Honey Puffs, the Zorba and the Acropolis, other significant gifts they bequeathed to the modern world included literature and philosophy. Just a snippet of this feast of knowledge was showcased through a series of lectures at The Greek Club, South Brisbane. Including “The 300 Spartans – The 300 at Thermopylae – Spartan Fact or Fiction” and “Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill”(Greek Cafes in 20th Century Australia).

This event features something for the entire family lots of dancing, sideshows, carnival rides, stalls and live entertainment all wrapped up in a neat package of culture. Now in it’s thirty third year Paniyiri is a celebration of food, fun and community spirit.

Paniyiri Greek Festival 2009, Brisbane JULY 4 & 5, 2009