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Same same but different

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram It’s one of the biggest events on the Greek Australian calendar in Melbourne, but after 28 years of the Lonsdale Street Festival, has the street glendi remained relevant to the Greek Australian community?Neos Kosmos conducted a poll last week, asking our readers whether Greek street festivals in Australia needed a drastic overhaul, and 82 per cent of readers voted yes.While many praised the festival for its commitment to showcasing the best traditional and cultural aspects of the community, many felt as though the festival had outgrown itself and was in need of new ideas. One of the most common complaints was the location was no longer suitable.“At the moment the area allocated is very cramped and uncomfortable,” Esther Kaghelaris-Mikropoulos said.“We have outgrown Lonsdale Street.” Angela Vasilakos agreed, saying she doesn’t go anymore because “taking the kids into a crammed city festival isn’t appealing”.Many have called for the festival to be moved to a bigger location, preferably a large park to better control crowds and give stallholders and performers more room to stretch out.Director of the Greek Centre of Contemporary Culture and an organiser of the festival, Jorge Menidis, says moving the festival to another location will change the festival’s feel. “In terms of the festival, I think it changes fundamentally the minute it moves location,” he tells Neos Kosmos.“Quite frankly, it loses its soul, or the event just becomes another weekend event at, for instance, Federation Square. There are so many of them that they don’t really mean anything. “Here it’s got a very strong identity.”He says as long as the Community will be funding it, the festival will be staged on Lonsdale Street.Others who braved the crowds to go to the festival were annoyed to see more of the same.“I go every year to support the event and it’s not really that interesting,” Pauline El Horri says. “The clubs represented do the same thing or similar every year.”Sophie Koutsoukos agreed and called for new ideas to revamp the festival.“It needs to have something more appealing and different,” she says.This year organisers tried hard to include new offerings for festivalgoers, but that mostly fell in the food and drink offerings, not in the stallholder area or the program.“We specifically went out and targeted other people to come into the festival who wouldn’t normally set up at our festival,” Mr Menidis says.“We brought 12 new suppliers, mainly in food provisions.”Many felt that relying on food and the same traditional dancing and music program didn’t properly promote the community’s heritage in the best light. “Enough of appealing to the lowest common denominator when it comes to Hellenic festivals,” said Jo Kargiotis.“It’s hard to defend our heritage and promote the interesting things being done by Greeks when all most see is covered in tzatziki.”Nick Sardis suggested organisers would benefit by adding more Greek theatre performances, more history learning experiences and more traditional costumes.Mr Menidis says the Community is conscious of the changing interests of festivalgoers and invites anyone with new ideas to come forward and collaborate with the festival. “We’re conscious of the changing face of the community,” he says. “We welcome any feedback.”The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria is conducting a survey about the festival which can be completed online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/lsf15audiencesurvey Those interested in speaking to the organising committee and offering ideas can call (03) 9662 2722.last_img read more