Appearances can be deceiving and that’s particularly true when it comes to beauty pageants, which are not all about looks. Besides being judged on their grace under pressure, and curves in bikinis, Colombia’s beauty queens promote some of the country’s most beloved exports and industries, and poke fun at our menfolk too:
The Ugly Pageant
Where: Marinilla, Antioquia
The Ugly Pageant seeks the ugliest man in Antioquia and the shortlisted twelve are quite happy to parade on floats, surrounded by scantily-clad models, before their King is crowned. Contenders have appropriate nicknames, such as Slapped Face or King Kong.
The Chicken Pageant
Where: Marsella, Risaralda
No fowl play here. The finest hens in the village of La Oriental in Marsella, Risaralda are dressed in their most colorful outfits and given names such as Doña Cuca, Goldilocks, Achira and Paintball, before being judged on their health and appearance.
The Donkey Pageant
Where: San Antero, Cordoba
When: During the Holy Week
From birds to beasts in San Antero, Cordoba, where every year the region’s beloved donkeys don fancy dress for their pageant. With names like Shakira and Barack Obama, they’re not above making a political statement with their elaborate costumes either.
The Cold Pageant
Where: Tunja, Boyaca
Boyaca can be a bit nippy, which explains why Colombia’s loveliest ladies wear wool outfits the first time they take to the catwalk in Tunja. As well as a defence against the temperature, it’s a nod to the region’s artistry in natural-dyed wool.
The Yuca and Totumo Pageant
Where: Tubara, Atlantico
Grace, charisma, dancing and dress might not seem necessary for a Queen of root vegetables, but they are very much the criteria at this beauty contest in Tubara, Atlantico. The pageant pays homage to the yuca (cassava) and totumo (calabash)
The Papaya Pageant
Where: Lejanias, Meta
Things get even fruitier over in Meta where the Papaya Pageant honors this orange favorite. Miss Papaya represents one of Colombia’s biggest papaya producing departments, contributing to the 140,000 tons of the fruit cultivated nationally every year.
The Soup Pageant
Where: Riquirre, Cesar
If Colombia could have just one food-based beauty pageant, it would have to honor soup. Not only are the candidates for this crown in Riquirre, Cesar judged on their curves, they have to prove they know its gastronomic, nutritional and cultural importance too.
The International Pineapple Pageant
Santander’s International Pineapple Pageant attracts entrants from Aruba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Bolivia, as well as our nearest neighbors, who battle to prove they are most up-to-speed on the pineapple production in their home country, among other things.
The International Panela Pageant
Where: Villeta, Cundinamarca
Villeta’s International Panela Pageant has been running almost 40 years and attracts girls from countries including Argentina, Chile, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, who all play their part in promoting one of Cundinamarca’s favorite products.
The Chapolera Pageant
Where: Armenia, Quindio
What would the coffee district be without its chapoleras, or female pickers? (named after a butterfly that migrates to the region every harvest) This Armenia beauty pageant honors the civic, social, cultural and familial importance of these dedicated women.
The International Coffee Pageant
Where: Manizales, Caldas
Colombia would not be complete without the International Coffee Pageant, which has been held in Manizales for almost 60 years and attracts entrants from all over the world. The current Miss Coffee is Yuri Uchida, from Japan.
The National Tourism Pageant
Where: Girardot, Cundinamarca
With all those beauty queens, Colombia has to be worth a visit and who better to welcome visitors than the National Tourism Queen? The contest is held every October in Girardot, Cundinamarca, with the winner doing her bit to boost our tourism trade.
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