TRALEE, Ireland — Ask about the Rose of Tralee International Festival, held each year in this west coast town in County Kerry, and participants will immediately tell you what it’s not. It’s not a beauty pageant. Also, it’s not a competition. Then things get complicated. Because to the uninitiated, the event, held this year in late August, sure looks like a beauty pageant, which is, by definition, competitive. The festival begins with 32 roses, as the women are called, and ends after six hours of live television spread across two nights, with close to 700,000 viewers in 61 countries. Nearly all of those hours are devoted to onstage interviews conducted by a tuxedoed, 43-year-old television presenter named Daithi O Se (pronounced DAW-Hee Oh-Shay), who seems like a cross between a game show host and a nosy uncle. Before a seated, audience of 2,000, each rose banters for five minutes or so. (Sample prompt: “Tell me about your Irish heritage.”) Most then perform a “party piece,” which could be a talent as conventional as singing or as surprising as, say, deadlifting 220 pounds on a barbell while wearing a red, full-length gown. “I’ve done all my stretches, I’m loosened up and… Read full this story
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