Most festival organizers pray for sunshine, but Shelburne’s Whirligig and Weathervane Festival organizers hope for something just short of a gale.
Whirligigs and weathervanes aren’t exactly rocket science, but participants have been known to use computers to design their entries. One self-described whirligig widow, says her husband spent six weeks in the design and construction of his entries.
One of the men behind the festival is Herschel Specter a retired nuclear physicist who divides his year between Shelburne and New York. It just seems bizarrely proper that someone with a career spend harnessing the power of the atom, would end up encouraging others to craft fun, frolicking folk art which relies on another element: the wind.
For two days every September as many as 70 of these amusing, clever follies flail away on the Shelburne waterfront. You can see anything from sultry mermaid weathervanes (guess what they use to point to the wind) to Victor Borge seated on a case of Keith’s hammering away at the piano, or a pink octopus seductively waving her tentacles in the wind, or a couple in a dory rowing towards the Bluenose. The faster the wind, the faster they row, but their destination, the Bluenose, remains ever faster still. There are wind-driven carousels, a fireman pumping an old fire apparatus (which is modeled after the one inside the Shelburne museum) to a blacksmith at work, a cow being milked, and a man’s worst nightmare: a barber with a wildly spinning razor.
It’s a cool outing for a family. Just pray for wind.
The Details: The annual Shelburne Whirligig and Weathervane Festival is held on the waterfront in the later part of September. For information – and photos of past winners – click on: whirligigfestival.com.
Excerpted from The Nova Scotia Book of MUSTS, the 101 Places Every Nova Scotian MUST See (MacIntyre Purcell Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9784784-2-1) the first travel guide to Nova Scotia for Nova Scotians and by a Nova Scotian.