Starting off the culture posts with a bang! Last weekend my friend Leanne and I hit up Llama Fest, an annual event held at the Krishna temple in Spanish Fork. I've always wanted to check this event out in years past that I've been here but never took the chance, and this year the promise of 75+ llamas in one location was too much for me to resist.
Unfortunately we were too late to catch any of the obstacle course that the llamas were subjected to, but we did manage to catch a glimpse of the award ceremony afterwards. A certain llama named Dennis swept the floor with the competition, getting a ribbon in almost every category, including first place in said obstacle course. We all felt a little jealous of that guy.
Between awards, we were treated to cultural dances from various individuals who represented several countries in South America. What's funny to me is that, after about 20 minutes of watching, I realized that the advertisement of these Latinos representing all these different countries was probably false. During the chunk of time I sat there, there was one group of adults and one group of children that alternated on the dance floor, taking turns so that one group could go backstage and change into appropriate costume for their next number! But entertaining nonetheless, especially the two little tykes who looked about age 6 and constantly looked to the other couple for guidance on what to do next.
We went on to explore the temple itself (pretty basic place, actually -- worship area upstairs where they were giving an interesting demonstration of their chanting while visiting children poked and climbed on statues of their gods, and a restaurant/gift shop downstairs) after I had led Leanne over to where the llamas were being held outside. The best part was probably feeding the llamas -- they were pretty vigorous when it came to hay. But petting the llamas was a very uncomfortable experience. Imagine a huge ball of dirty wool and then reaching out only to feel a very bony skeleton beneath. Seriously, you can feel every detail of every bone and tendon. It's really sick. Like cross-breeding a sheep with one of the Olsen twins. In any case, llamas aren't very social creatures. Like their cousin the camel, they were bred to labor.
There was one llama in particular that made us afraid. I didn't snap a shot of it in hopes that the memory escapes me one day. This little guy was about half the height of a normal llama, had eyes that were only half-open, and a lower lip that hung loose off his jaw, leaving a long trail of green saliva constantly oozing out. He kept drunkenly staring at us. He's basically the reason we left the petting area.
But after that we discovered the zebu! Read the wikipedia article for more info on these guys. They didn't really care that we were there to see them, but they stayed close enough for me to grab onto their fleshy humps on their necks. I'd never seen one of these before. It kind of made me want to buy a mini-wagon and hitch 'em up for a mini-trek to Springville.
I'm sure this experience would have been much more enlightening if I'd bothered to research why exactly this event even occurs (I assume it has to do with the fact that there's a lot of llama/alpaca ranching in Utah) and why at the Krishna temple of all places, but it was fun nonetheless and I learned a few things, like how llamas can withstand extremely cold temperatures yet are prone to heat exhaustion at about the same levels of heat as humans. In that sense, I feel like I can really relate with llamas now.
I think I'll name one of my kids Dennis.