In terms of unique food, music and animals, visitors may experience the unexpected at this year’s Llama Fest.
The 17th annual Llama Fest happens Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Krishna Temple on South Main in Spanish Fork. In addition to the educational opportunity and entertainment value of the llamas, the fest boasts a variety of food and activities including live musical entertainment, wool demonstrations and handicrafts.
Gerrit Dunford, a senior from Las Vegas, majoring in molecular biology, attended the festival last year and said he enjoyed interacting with and feeding the exotic animals.
“There’s nothing quite like taking a carrot and letting a llama lick your hand all over,” Dunford said.
He said last year had a mix of interesting music not typically heard in the Provo music scene.
“The musicians there were very independent,” Dunford said. “It was cool.”
According to Dunford, the food was also unique.
“Definitely a new experience,” Dunford said. “If you are contemplating trying out a vegetarian lifestyle, that’s a good place to start.”
Caru Das, festival coordinator, has been with the fest since its inception.
“We do a number of festivals during the year, and most of them are centered in the Indian culture,” Das said. “Llamas don’t have anything to do with our culture. They’re from South America, Chile, Bolivia and Peru.”
Das is quick to point out that members at the Hare Krishna Temple do not worship llamas.
“For several reasons we thought it would be fun to have a llama fest,” Das said. “The existing Llama Fests … throughout the country are just terminally boring.”
Das explained llama fests typically involve llama owners competing with each other with little thought to members of the public.
‘We thought we’d almost have an anti-llama fest in the sense that we’d incorporate music and food and crafts and spinning and weaving demonstrations so that it would be a festival for the public rather than … a limited community,” Das said. “It was kind of a tongue-in-cheek venture but it was instantly popular.”
Das is hopeful the later start time this year will be a deterrent to the heat. He said the property has a wonderful pavilion and lots of shade but the last five years of temperatures have been above 100 degrees.
Some people are afraid of llamas because of their reputation for spitting.
Das said llamas spit at each other to establish a pecking order. Each llama has its space and if another llama intrudes, especially when there’s food involved, they offer a warning that if not heeded may result in a faceful of grass that’s been through three different stomachs.
“That’s stuff that goes on between llamas,” Das said. “A llama will almost never with premeditation spit at a human being.”
Das explained that people have fears of llamas spitting because they’ve gone to petting zoos.
“It’s not a nice happy life for llamas in a petting zoo,” Das said. ” There’s too much interaction with human beings.
It’s part of the unnatural perverted state of consciousness that’s fostered by the zoo environment.”
Das said llamas who live in a herd don’t have any such identity problems. He said unless people are tormenting them and in their space there is nothing to fear.
“The llamas will warn you with their ears back,’ Das said. “If you still don’t get it they’ll clear their throat.”
And for those who do not respect the warning, Das explained the outcome.
“If you still don’t get it then pretty much I’ll be applauding when you’re covered in green,” Das said.