The contestants wear flowers in their hair. And ribbons. And brightly colored tops.
They parade around. They're judged.
The winner gets a tiara, plus cakes, jars of honey and a coupon for a free haircut.
Welcome to the goat beauty contest in Remygala, Lithuania, a village of about 1,700 people. Videos of the event, which is marking its seventh year, are making the rounds on the Internet.
This year's winner is a 16-year-old ruminant named Demyte, which means "little spot." In fact, Demyte has two black spots on her cream-colored coat. The Reuters news service interviewed owner Ferdinandas Petkevicius, a 76-year-old retired vet, who said, "The only thing we didn't do to prepare the goat for the pageant is we didn't polish its nails because we thought of it too late."
The judges reportedly included a local member of parliament, the head of local school and a cucumber farmer.
All of this raises the question: What makes a goat ... beautiful?
For insights, we turned to Susan Schoenian, a sheep and goat specialist at the University of Maryland Extension.
It turns out the old saying applies: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
For example, Demyte has horns. Schoenian personally is not a fan of horns. To her mind, horns "just cause nothing but problems." They can get a goat entangled in a fence or cause pain to humans or other goats. Clearly the Lithuanian judges were horn lovers.
But there are certain universal standards when it comes to judging a goat's attractiveness, she says. "For a goat to be pretty, it's going to have to be clean, well-groomed and docile, and maybe even have a personality."
The goat beauty contest may seem like a novelty but it's really just a variation on the "best livestock" contests held at state fairs across the U.S. At an agricultural fair, you might think the goat that wins is the one that produces the most milk. But in fact, Schoenian says, the blue ribbon is "generally [awarded on] what they look like" — which has nothing to do with production. "It's the same thing with people," she notes. "Somebody may look pretty but that doesn't mean they make a good living."
As for the bedecked Lithuanian goats, one might wonder how they feel about donning hats and sweaters.
"Does a dog mind wearing a hat?" Schoenian says. A dog or a goat may "sometimes tolerate it," she explains. "Do they like wearing it? Probably not."
So good luck to the Lithuanian villager who had to put the tiara on Demyte's horned head!
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