Digital Story : Paniyiri Greek Festival of Brisbane (2009)

In 2009, a series of short digital stories highlighting the significant contributions the Greek community has made to Queensland’s agricultural, social, artistic and economic development were filmed through a partnership between the Greek Orthodox Community of Saint George Brisbane, the State Library of Queensland and Team Lacey Consultancy with funding from the Queensland Government’s Q150 Community Funding Program.

Dancers at the Paniyiri Greek Festival of Brisbane. From Journey from Yassou to G’Day digital stories. In copyright. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Dancers at the Paniyiri Greek Festival of Brisbane. From Journey from Yassou to G’Day digital stories. In copyright. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

This series of eight videos was called The Journey from Yassou to G’Day and includes stories on the Paniyiri Festival, Contessa Diamantina di Roma Lady Bowen, the Nicolaides family and family-run cafes in Brisbane and north Queensland.

In this short video from The Journey from Yassou to G’Day series, Christos Kazonis reflects on the history of the Paniyiri Greek Festival from its beginnings in 1976 to 2009, when the digital story was recorded.

A transcript from the video is below…

“My story that I would like to share with the people of Queensland relates to the Greek Paniyiri Festival of Brisbane.

“A promotional decision made in 1976 by committee members of the Greek Orthodox Community of St George, Brisbane to showcase our newly built Greek Community Centre located in Edmondstone Street, South Brisbane beside the existing Greek Orthodox Church and Ethnic School was the beginning of what has become the largest two day ethnic festival in Queensland.

“From the humble beginning of a simple “Sunday Picnic” in Musgrave Park to showcase Greek food and dance to the people of Brisbane together with various fun activities including spaghetti eating and honey puff competitions, a mini marathon from Victoria Park at the Brisbane Exhibition to Musgrave Park, and even a tug a war competition, has evolved into a display of everything Greek that includes food, dance, cultural displays and lectures, religious exhibits, cooking exhibitions, numerous fun events including honey puff, olive eating and grape stomping competitions, embroidery, photographic and art displays, and more recently cross cultural displays of dance and food with the Chinese and local Indigenous communities.

“With the previous Paniyiri success, the Greek Community in 1978 decided that it would commit to annual Sunday Paniyiri Festival and that year it was also the start of the Greek Expo in the Greek Community Centre that showcased the different cultures of various regions of Greece. The concept was a huge success many thousands of people attending the three day celebrations. In 2004 Paniyiri Festival expanded to become a huge two day festival.

“In 1977, the Paniyiri committee decided it was time for the formation of their own Hellenic dancers and in 1978 they performed for the first time traditional dance from the various regions of Greece in authentic dress. The Hellenic dancers have progressed since that first performance and have participated at every Paniyiri Festival since. In the year 2000 we celebrated the Paniyiri Festival with a focus on the Olympic Games held in Sydney. It was such a success that we continued that tradition in 2004 (Athens Olympics).

“In 2008 we celebrated the Beijing Olympics when we had a cross cultural experience with the Chinese community. In 2009 we had the local Aboriginal Indigenous community performing with our Hellenic dancers, and we also have on display for viewing some of the personal effects (clothing, jewelry etc.) from the wife of Queensland’s first Governor, the Lady Diamantina Bowen whose heritage stems from the islands of Ithaca and Zakinthos in Greece to celebrate Queensland’s 150 years.

“This is my story: Yassou! Christos Kazonis.”

You can watch all the digital stories from The Journey from Yassou to G’Day via our One Search catalogue or our YouTube channel.

More collections on the Paniyiri Festival: