Anna Paphitis is looking forward to the upcoming Estia Festival in Hobart because for the seventeenth year in a row the people of Hobart will be able to experience a Greek style panygiri.
Federal Street in North Hobart will be transformed into a Greek Village on Sunday 14 March on Estia’s day of days to showcase the best arts and craft, food, entertainment and Greek culture that Tasmania has to offer.
Around 7,000 people are expected to attend the Greek-style street party.
The festival will run through until mid-April with one event a week for four weeks.
The street party will be followed by a lecture at the University of Tasmania, a family dinner, a quiz night and a taverna night.
As the chairperson of the Estia Festival, Anna Paphitis is aware that the festival is precious because it is the flagship event for the Greek community in Hobart.
“It provides us with the opportunity to share with the city of Hobart our culture, hospitality and goodwill,” Anna explains. “We take a lot of pride in this role and hope it brings joy and understanding to others in our community.
“The Hobart City Council recognises it as one of the most significant multicultural festivals in this city and provides funding and support accordingly.”
The Estia Festival is also important, Paphitis said, because it serves as a exemplar to other ethnic communities.
“There are no other multicultural groups in Hobart that run a festival like ours which runs for 4-6 weeks and contains a number of events – so it is much admired by other ethnic communities,” she pointed out. “The fact that it has been going for so long is a testament to the commitment, congeniality and hard work of our people.”
However as a long-standing community festival it faces the constant challenge of finding volunteers to keep the festival operating.
“The constant problem is volunteers. Volunteers to be on the committee, volunteers to staff the events. Most people have ideas and opinions of what should happen but it is difficult to translate this into action.”
Asked how one engages the younger locally born Greek- Australians in the festival and community affairs draws a considered response from the festival chairperson.
The question of engagement is a universal issue for all Greek community organisations, according to Paphitis. “I used to think it was never going to happen. I couldn’t imagine that I as a first generation Greek, and my Greek friends would be running the Greek school and engaging in the community life that my parents did but to my surprise, and pleasure, we are,” Paphitis said.
“I can only hope and assume that our kids may take on that responsibility and interest also. I believe the Greek school and activities that young people enjoy, like dancing, keeps the younger generations engaged and therefore committed for the future.”