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World Celebrations: Whale Watching, And Wearable Art

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Each week on World Music (Saturday nights from 8-10 on KSTX 89.1 FM), I take a look at celebrations happening around the world. As September comes to an end, South Africa looks to the sea to celebrate one of the earth’s largest mammals, but in Slovenia, another smaller mammal makes a meal.


The Hermanus Whale Festival takes place in the last week of September, off South Africa’s Western Cape. These magnificent sea creatures swim so close to the coastline they are easily seen by the naked eye. They leave the sub-Antarctic waters to swim north to breed, and are also spotted around South America, New Zealand and Australia. In Hermanus, their arrival is heralded by a Whale Crier, the only one in the world, who blows on his kelp horn. Incidentally, a kelp horn is made from thick, brown, seaweed and its sound is similar to the vuvuzela, which was heard continuously throughout the 2010 World Cup Football Match in Cape Town.

In addition to tourists on land, there are boats and helicopters surrounding these rapidly disappearing mammals. At one point in time, the bay contained up to seventy whales at a sighting, but now those great schools are greatly diminished. The Hermanus Festival also has the requisite food booths, musical acts and carnival rides, and one must remember, this is the first week of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, so if you’re going, pack a sweater, for it’s still a little chilly.


It’s not a fashion show--although the sashaying models wear elaborate and beautiful garments. WOW (World of Wearable Art) is an art show and a theatrical production held in Wellington, New Zealand. The brainchild of Dame Suzie Moncrieff, it is now in its 26th year. Dame Suzie describes it “as a glorious rebellion against the mundane…if sports and beauty contests can attract worldwide audiences, why not wearable art?” Designers from ten different countries present 165 different pieces of wearable art in awesome theatrical performances. Recycling produces outfits made from worn out bicycle tires, tea bags and coffee filters, even old sofa parts. The designs are limited only by the creator’s imagination. One year, the winner’s dress, Lady of Wood, featured a 19th century dress carved out of wood. Nightly shows play to audiences of 40,000, and tickets sell out well in advance of the events. The festival runs September 26-October 6.

Is This The Same Dormouse From ‘Alice In Wonderland?’

Yes it is! The last week of September is the Dormouse Festival in Slovenia, children dress as dormice and adults eat the furry creatures (the actual dormice, not the children). Dormouse consumption dates back to Roman times, when these squirrel-like creatures were considered a valuable protein food source. Not only hunted and bred for their meat, their fat aids in the treatment of wounds and confers good luck when rubbed on the head. The fur can also make a rather nice hat. The Dormouse Festival takes place at Sneznik Castle which houses the Dormouse Mouseum. 

Learn more about these and other celebrations happening around the world this week on World Music with Deirdre Saravia, Saturday nights at 8:00 on KSTX 89.1 FM.

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Deirdre as born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and her first paid work was at the age of 10 with the BBC as an actress on "Children's Hour." She continued to perform regularly on radio and stage for the next eight years, at which point she was informed by her parents that theater was not an option and she needed "real" work.