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Festival fortnight celebrates Bay's hot rocks

Source: Source: Published:Apr 17,2009

PLANS are being laid for a fortnight packed with events to celebrate Torbay's hot rocks.

The second English Riviera Geopark Festival will take place between May 22 and June 6, and culminates in the Occombe Farm Beer Festival where a new beer will be named in the geopark's honour following a local competition to come up with a name.

The festival will embrace everything from walks, arts exhibitions and a mini archaeological dig to worm charming and a special exhibition by Exeter's Royal Albert Museum at Torquay's Kents Cavern.

Mel Border, Geopark coordinator, said: "We have a huge number of events going on during the fortnight which is great. Some things will be running every day throughout the fortnight, others are one-offs."

The fortnight starts with the international communication day with radio hams at Kents Cavern contacting other enthusiasts around the world, with the station running throughout the day and night.

Ms Border said: "We had recognition from UNESCO last year for staging it as the first live European geopark event. We had publicity all over the UNESCO website for that which is great."

The amateur radio event, which has its own call sign GB6GEO, will enable enthusiasts to contact geoparks all over the world including Brazil, Tasmania and Siberia. There will be special certificates for those who contact more than three sites during May 23 to 24.

Other attractions to see at the caves during the weekend include 'no-aerial' cave radio, satellite communications, amateur TV and a tribute to Oliver Heaviside, a local scientist who discovered the Heaviside Layer in the atmosphere.

Among the other events being laid on across the Bay are a trail of sculptures constructed out of recycled materials by local artists and artist groups at Occombe Farm, Paignton, cruises with special commentary of the Torbay coastline, craft exhibition at Torquay's Torre Abbey, beating the parish bounds at Churston, a bug weekend at Living Coasts, rocks and earth workshop at Torquay Museum, and lecture by Chris Stringer, author of Homo Britannicus (winner of Best Archeological Book 2008) on the effect that changing geographies and climates had on the human colonisation of Britain.

The geopark is already attracting foreign visitors to the Bay. More than a dozen students and three teachers from Norway visited Torbay fresh from the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.

They came from a potential geopark area and have visited other geoparks in the UK. The 17 to 18 years old are studying geology.