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Whirligigs to put spin on festival fun in Shelburne Sept. 16 and 17

Whirligig festival
Whirligig festival

SHELBURNE, N.S. – Colourful, whimsical whirligigs of every design imaginable will be eye candy on the Shelburne waterfront when the 18th annual Whirligig Festival opens for the weekend on Saturday, Sept. 16.

A number of new events have been added to the schedule for the two-day festival this year, including kite-flying demonstrations both days from 12 to 1 p.m.

“The committee is quite excited about that,” said spokesperson Timothy Gillespie.

A children’s kite-building workshop is also on tap Saturday afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m.

There will also be live music on the waterfront with Ghost Town Heroes playing in the festival tent both days from 1 to 3 p.m. An Art Whirligigs Silent Auction featuring the work of some 10 to 15 local artists will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

Whirligig-building workshops for adults and children will also be held both days. Saturday will end on a musical note with the Dock Street Uke Camp Ukulele Show at the Osprey Arts Centre.

Whirligig festival

There are 11 different categories of competition for whirligig builders at this year’s festival, with more than $1,500 in prizes up for grabs.

“One of the real highlights of the festival is the People’s Choice Award,” said Gillespie.

Other categories for the 2017 festival include Celebrating Canada's 150th, the Founders' Award, a new Sea Monster Theme Award, Best of Show, First Time Entrant, Most Historical, Best Weathervane, Youth Category, Best Workmanship, Most Creative, Most Whimsical and Human Whirligigs. The awards presentation will be held at the Guild Hall on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 4 p.m.  Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall will be the emcee.

Since the committee doesn’t require whirligig exhibitors to pre-register, there’s always “a whole lot of surprises on Saturday morning” when the exhibitors start arriving, said Gillespie.

“There’s a different mix every year,” he said. “One year a fellow from Philadelphia brought up 10 complex whirligigs he had made. This year I’ve been corresponding with people from Colorado who are coming.”

He said exhibitors are also expected from Prince Edward Island. Gillespie noted there has been a lot of traffic on the festival website, which is a good sign. Each year the festival attracts anywhere from 20 to 50 exhibitors.

The Shelburne Whirligig Festival has attracted an average of about 1,000 visitors annually over the past 10 years, said Gillespie.

For further information on the festival, and info on how to pre-register for events when required, visit

A letter carrier gets “pantsed” by a dog in this whirligig on Shelburne’s waterfront.


Whirligig Festival schedule



• 8-11 a.m.: Community Breakfast, Sandy Point Lighthouse. Adults: $8 Children: $4.

• 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Whirligig-building workshop at Muir/Cox Shipyard with Milford Buchanan, expert Dory builder and woodcrafter. Workshop includes all materials, paint and instruction. $25 per person. Pre-registration preferred. Maximum 12 participants per session.

• 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Farmers' Market Guild Hall

• 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Art Whirligigs Silent Auction. Special "art" whirligigs painted and decorated by local artists.

• 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Registration of entries, historic waterfront.

• 12-5 p.m.: Viewing of entries on the waterfront.

• 12-1 p.m.: Kite-flying demonstration

• 1-3 p.m.: Live music with Ghost Town Heroes

• 1-4 p.m.: Whirligig-building workshop at Muir/Cox Shipyard with Milford Buchanan.  Workshop includes all materials. $25 per person. Pre-registration preferred. Maximum 12 participants per session

• 2-4 p.m.: Kite-building workshop. Ages 4 to 11. Shelburne Waterfront. (Limited to 20 participants.

• 7:30-10 p.m.: Dock Street Uke Camp. Ukulele show Osprey Arts Centre.



• 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Viewing of entries on waterfront.

• 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Art Whirligigs Silent Auction.

• 12-1 p.m.: Kite-flying demonstration.

• 1-3 p.m.: Live music with Ghost Town Heroes.

• 2 p.m.: Judging of whirligig entries.

• 2-4 p.m.: Children’s whirligig-building workshop. Ages 4–11. Dock Street.  Free. Pre-registration preferred. Limited to 20 participants.

• 4 p.m.: Awards presentations at Guild Hall.


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