“The nerves kicked in while doing the final touches to my hair, hoping it looked pretty. My heart started racing while praying I didn’t fall on the stage. The amount of times I looked in the mirror to make sure my makeup looked up to par. The moment came. It was my turn. Hearing my name being called was the best feeling in the world. The roar of the crowd is something I will never forget. The big all-white ballroom filled with noise and everyone stood up. I wish I could relive that moment over and over again.”
That was the experience described by Princess Calabria, 2019.
Held annually at The Italian Cultural Center, Miss Calabria is a beauty pageant held in Vancouver, BC, for girls whose family come from the region of Calabria. It is the event of the year for many in the local Italian community. The competition lasts for about two hours and includes questions, dance and a walk down the stage.
The girls started practicing for this event as early as January, trying their best to make everything perfect. “The preparation was harder than it may seem,” said one contestant. “Over 3 hours a week practicing. [But] all the hard work was worth it, because the people you meet and bonds you create make friendships that last a lifetime.”
The event coordinators of the Italian Cultural Center, describe an Italian community that has shrunk over the years. By holding an event like Miss Calabria, they hope to get more young people involved in the community each year hoping it continues to grow. Fifteen years ago there were several such beauty pageants for the various regions of Italy including Calabria, Puglia and Campagina. The winner of each of those then would go to Toronto and compete in a Miss Italia competition. However, only the Calabrese community remains large enough to continue the tradition today. He said that every year they talk about holding more events like this with the hopes that in the future they will once again include other regions.
Princess Calabria 2019 described her overall experience as “truly an amazing one. It gave me the opportunity to make new friendships with different people and allowed me to grow as a person and helped me mature into the woman I am becoming.” I can personally attest that the experience as a guest is also unforgettable. From the food to the dancing until 1 am, the whole night was the experience of a lifetime.