Saturday, September 7, 2013 an intimate group of enthusiastic animal lovers gathered together for the first annual ManulFest, a music and arts festival honoring the near-endangered manul, also known as the Pallas’ Cat.
Talking place at Isis Oasis in Geyserville, a wild-life sanctuary and temple erected on a spot that was once home to a Bahai Temple, the all-day event was attended by approximately two hundred people, most arriving after 7pm to enjoy the musical portion of the event, which included performances by Jill Tracy, Gitane Demone with Rikk Agnew, Protea, Sublime Friction, and Baron Rubenbauer.
“All the performers were amazing & the people who attended seemed in good spirits. Sign me up next Manualfest 2014!” said James Leon (aka DJ Death Boy)
Lower ticket prices may have accounted for the increased attendance after sunset, as the event offered a $40 day pass with two meals, while after 7pm attendants paid only $15 for the opportunity to enjoy stand-out performances by Jill Tracy and Gitane Demone with Rikk Agnew. Jill Tracy’s performance was particularly impressive: her two-piece band, which included herself on vocals and keyboards and drummer Randy Odell on a variety of percussion instruments certainly owes as much to the jazz tradition as to anything gothic. This lent itself perfectly to the beatnik ambience and resonance created by the temple-like, high ceilinged performance venue..
The fifty or so people who showed up early were treated to an Isis ceremony Loreon Vigne, Rain Graves and Amber Wright under a 500 year old tree, poetry and book readings by Lilith Babellon, Serena Toxicat, Sumiko Saulson and Rain Graves, and given a tour of the sanctuary, which does not have any manuls but is home to several other small wildcats such as servals. Elated visitors were allowed to enter two at a time and pet a female bobcat and ocelot.
The event was also tabled by art and craft vendors such as Requiem Rose.
The goal of the benefit was to raise awareness of the plight of the Manul, a Central Asian wildcat. During the tour, Lilith Babellon educated visitors about the reasons the Manul is near endangered, which include declining prey base and hunters, who covet the animal’s long, thick fur. The Pallas’ cat does not do well in captivity owing to a high death rate due to infection. For this reason attempts to breed it in captivity have been met with limited success.