The 39th Delphi Bank Semaphore Greek Festival organised by the Greek Orthodox Community of the Nativity of Christ Port Adelaide and Environs had its second-best year on record last weekend with 35,000 visitors attending the two-day festival and treating themselves to Greek delicacies while celebrating Greek culture, music and dancing.

“This was one of our most successful festival editions, with all these people defying the weather conditions and honouring us with their presence and we would like to thank everyone for coming and specifically we would like to thank the premier and the government of South Australia for their pledge of $750,000 for our new community centre,” said the president of the Greek Orthodox Community of the Nativity of Christ Port Adelaide and Environs, John Douvartzidis.

“This was the most wonderful surprise in a dynamic weekend.”

Among the thousands of people who came to the festival were some of the most prominent members of the South Australian community, including South Australian Governor of Hieu Van Le, Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill, Bishop Nikandros of Dorileon, Consul General of Greece in South Australia Andreas Constantinos Gouras, treasurer of South Australia Tom Koutsantonis, Minister for Education and Child Development Susan Close, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development Stephen Mullighan, and Leader of the Opposition Steven Marshall. Also present were the mayor of the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and councillors from the Port Adelaide, Semaphore and Outer Harbour wards, Gary Johanson, federal member for Port Adelaide Mark Butler, federal member for Hindmarsh, Steve Georganas, chairperson of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission Grace Portolesi, leader of SA Best Nick Xenophon, and chairperson of Intercommunities Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in South Australia, Con Dalas.

“This community is very important to us and we are honoured to be invited to this magnificent event where we get to enjoy all aspects of the Hellenic culture,” said Premier Weatherill, who contributed $50,000 towards next year’s event and then surprised the organisers with a remarkable pledge to offer $750,000 in funding PAGOC’s new community centre, should his government be re-elected at the state election on 17 March.

With the help of its 300 volunteers, the festival set a world record in loukoumathes production; revellers fell in love with the traditional Greek dessert, urging the bakers to produce the record number of 37,730 honey-rich spheres in just two days!

The younger generation took centrestage when more than 200 children, members of traditional dance groups, brought joy to the festival goers, followed by local Greek bands Zeus and Kosmos who entertained the crowds.

“This was an extremely successful weekend, particularly given the adverse weather conditions on Saturday and in terms of attendance, it was one of the two most successful years in the festival’s history, second only to last year’s record,” said festival head of communications, Kyriakos Gold.

“As for our communications strategy, I am particularly satisfied with the attendance in our inaugural media hub, but also with the internet engagement. More than 400,000 people visited our social media pages and everyone in South Australia is talking about #sema4greekfest today,” he said.

“At least 85 per cent of the volunteers these days are young Greek Australians who have come to me with such joy and excitement to offer their assistance.

“They have truly worked so hard in the months leading up to this event. I am deeply moved and impressed by everyone’s positive energy and willingness and I am hopeful that this is a sign for better years to come with fresh ideas and initiatives which will assist us in the preservation and continuation of our Greek tradition and culture,” said the president of PAGOC.

“Our community and the success of our activities rely on the soul and participation of our volunteers. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to achieve this small wonder.

“Our festival is now all grown, it is entering a new phase and we promise very big surprises next year, when we celebrate our 40th anniversary,” concluded Douvartzidis.