Northwest Bootblack Contest


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To qualify, contestants must self-identify as a bootblack and have been active in the community for a minimum of one year. Contestants may, but are not required to, have a local or state bootblack title. Contestants must be articulate, have chair experience, be an educator, speak about current issues facing bootblacks, and represent the Northwest Region.

The contest is open to bootblacks regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. The title is not about a particular look, dress, body type. Contestants are not required to have a formal platform; however, questions from the judges regarding any specific plans or goals are appropriate.

Titleholder may elect to compete for an international title, or focus on service within the Northwest Region.

Contestants are Judged in Five Areas

  1. Personal Interview (100 points) The judging panel will interview the contestants for a period of 10-15 minutes. Questions may include (but are not limited to) technical knowledge, community contribution, bootblack history and personal history.
  2. Bootblack Skills (total of 200 Points) The goal of this category to gauge the leather care skills of the bootblack in two categories:
    - Technical Ability (125 points): Measures the contestant's ability to properly identify the item type, determine the steps needed to properly care for the item, and then follow the steps determined. Emphasis will be on thoroughness of cleaning, proper use of products, and overall technique.
    - Chair Management (75 points): Measures the contestant's customer service skills while bootblacking. It will focus on their ability to interact with the client, manage client expectations, deliver good customer service, and balance the needs of other waiting customers. Judges will observe how the contestants set up their stations, carry themselves, and interact with their customers.
    Judging will occur during all Open Shine hours via observation by the judges. Note, the standard customs of bootblacking are in effect. There is no penalty for sharing knowledge or product among contestants as long as it is respectful of the other contestant's time and customers.
  3. Speech (100 points) Contestants will present a two-minute prepared speech (on any topic of their choice) on stage during the contest on Friday in their formal leather. Contestants will be judged on content, delivery, and body language presented during the speech.
  4. Pop Question (50 points) The contestants will be asked a pop question on stage during the contest on Saturday.
  5. Overall Image and Personality (50 points)

Throughout the weekend the judges will observe how the contestants present themselves and interact with the public, how they interact with their customers, how they interact with their fellow contestants, and how they put their own "flair" on bootblacking. The judges will consider the contestant's general manner, attitude, appearance, and communication skills.

A minimum of 70% of the possible points available are required to win, regardless of the number of contestants competing. There are three judges and all scores are included.

The titleholder's primary mission is to educate the leather and M/s communities about bootblacking by attending, bootblacking at, and teaching at a minimum of four events during the title year. These events need not be large events. Presentations at smaller venues, such as local bar events or for one's local dungeon or club fulfills the requirement just as well as presentations offered at large weekend conferences.

The titleholder must also attend Northwest Leather Celebration the year following their victory and participate in the step down process. In addition to these responsibilities, the winner is required to provide quarterly activity and expense reports to the contest Owners. The travel fund is disbursed quarterly. Titleholders who serve less than a full year will not receive the entire year's travel fund.

Regional bootblack titleholders must agree that during the title year and thereafter, they will not engage in interviews with or appear in "vanilla"mainstream media (whether print, television, film, radio or internet based) to discuss or call attention to the Northwest Bootblack Contest without the express written consent of the Owners/Producers of the Northwest Bootblack Contest.

In addition to promoting Bootblacking and representing the Northwest, the winner is expected to promote Northwest Leather Celebration, the host event for the Northwest Bootblack contest, as well as help recruit and encourage the following year's contestants.