Miss Whitstable contest opened to boys for first time in 121 years after no girls register

UK

A competition to be crowned queen of a British seaside town has been opened to boys for the first time in more than a century after no girls put themselves forward.

Every year since 1897, Whitstable in Kent has chosen a Miss Whitstable – a queen – and a number of princesses. The winners take part in a carnival parade, open local fairs and give speeches.

Organisers of the town’s local carnival waited for two hours as selections were held at Whitstable Castle on Sunday, but no one attended

​Whitstable Carnival Association posted about the lack of interest on its Facebook page, where the competition was criticised for being “archaic and sexist”.

Morag Warren wrote: “I wouldn’t want my daughter going for this to be honest … makes me a bit squeamish. A beauty parade for 13 to 16-year-old girls? The carnival could and should be brilliant without this relic. Quite chuffed that Whitstable parents have rejected this.”

Secretary of the Whitstable Carnival Association, Carol Simmons, said the selection event would be rescheduled and boys would be allowed to enter.

She told Kent Online the association had only allowed girls to enter the competition in the past “mainly because boys might not want to sit on a float and wave”.

She said the Miss Whitstable competition was “definitely not” a beauty pageant, saying successful entrants must have a “nice personality”, not just a “pretty face”.

Ms Simmons added: “If boys are willing to do it, they will have to conform with our rules and regulations. We can’t have people running around all over the place and misbehaving.”

One former Miss Whitstable, Sophie Goldsmith, said in a Facebook post: “All the girls I know that have had the pleasure of representing Whitstable have turned into wonderful, successful people, and most of them attribute some of this to what they learned whilst in carnival.”

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