Aqua Chautauqua makes a splash on South Whidbey

Sarah Duvall of White Bear Lake, Minn. joined the didgeridoo and Hula Hoop contest at the Aqua Chautauqua Festival Thursday in Langley.  - David Welton / The Record
Sarah Duvall of White Bear Lake, Minn. joined the didgeridoo and Hula Hoop contest at the Aqua Chautauqua Festival Thursday in Langley.
— image credit: David Welton / The Record


South Whidbey Record

Who put the aqua in Aqua Chautauqua?

It's hard enough trying to set a world record, without trying to do it in the rain.

"It always happens," said Bob Effertz with a sigh.

Effertz was gathering his troops at the Island County Fairgrounds in Langley on Thursday afternoon in an attempt to set a world record for the number of people Hula-Hooping while playing the didgeridoo.

It was one of the featured daytime events of Aqua Chautauqua, a festival of fun presented by a troupe of more than 50 traveling jugglers, acrobats, comedians and musicians based in Port Townsend.

They arrived at Langley by boat, and paraded through town before heading to the fairgrounds, where they conducted afternoon workshops in folksinging, juggling, tumbling, stilt-walking, face-painting, clowning and other invaluable life tools to more than 100 visitors.

A highlight of the evening was a rousing, sold-out, 3-hour vaudeville concert in the Langley Middle School auditorium. More than 500 people were treated to an environmentally-friendly show of comedy, music, juggling, "trash fashion," audience participation and all-around boisterousness that brought the crowd to its feet.

But earlier, at didgeridoo central ...

The skies had turned threatening throughout the afternoon, and the first drops fell at 3:45. It was raining steadily by 4, the appointed hour.

"Let's go for it," Effertz said through his rain-spattered portable microphone, and the field in front of the barn came alive with hooping and honking.

The didgeridoo is a traditional Australian aboriginal instrument. A Hula Hoop is ... what it is. Effertz, 58, of Clinton, a longtime educator and music instructor, said he needed 239 didgeridoo players to break the record, but fewer than 50 showed up.

So he improvised, passing out plastic tubes that produce sounds similar to the real instrument, then adding Hula Hoops to establish a different kind of record.

They played and swiveled for several minutes. At the end, the official participant count was 42. Effertz collected their names and signatures, documented witnesses and prepared to send everything off to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Did he beat the old record?

"There is no old record," he said. "This is a brand-new category."

Aqua Chautauqua 2008 was sponsored by Island Coffeehouse & Books, South Whidbey Commons and South Whidbey Tilth.

Roy Jacobson can be reached at 221-5300 or

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