Here are the answers to the questions that we frequently hear
What can I expect at the Beaver Queen Pageant?
The Beaver Queen Pageant is Durham’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on personalities: Fur Pelton John, the Beave Whisperer and Furrabella-Conchita Carramba. As with every Beaver Queen Pageant, the contestants introduce themselves in their wetlands ready wear, participate in an interview in their finest evening wear, and showcase their unique talent. Beav Aldrin, the 2014 Queen, performed an aerial routine on silks. Furrah Gnawsett-Major, the 2012 Queen, played the Star Wars theme on the clarinet while hula hooping. This year’s theme, Saturday Night Beaver, promises to attract characters and talent of vaguely familiar forms. WUNC’s Frank Stasio will once again serve as emcee.
In addition to the fun and the frolic, you’ll find:
--> A Scrap Exchange tent where you can construct your very own beaver tail and costume
--> Food Trucks out on the road (El Jefecito, Locopops, Pie Pushers, and Sympathy for The Deli)
--> A Locopops cart and a lemonade stand (Fahsyrah's Lemonade) in the meadow to wet your whistle
--> A voting booth where you can cast your ballot for your favorite contestant (votes are $5/each)
--> A place to buy BQP merchandise (because you have always wanted a Peace. Love. Beaver sticker, hat, and shirt)
--> A kiddie area with hoses and water toys
--> A safety tent (also a place to find lost friends and children)
Check out what the News and Observer had to say about the Beaver Queen Pageant in their article: 5 tips on attending Durham’s annual Beaver Queen Pageant
What is the schedule of events?
Pre-pageant activities begin at 4 pm. Claim your spot in the shade. Strut your stuff in a parade with the Bulltown Strutters. Make your very own tail at the Scrap Exchange booth.
Pageant festivities begin at 5 pm. The show typically lasts for about 90 minutes.
What should I bring?
The answer to this very important question depends on the weather. If it has been raining, you might want to bring a tarp as the wetlands in the meadow can get pretty mucky. Otherwise, a picnic blanket and low lawn chairs will do. If it is sunny, make sure to bring a hat, your sunscreen, and a water bottle.
Most importantly, bring cash, a debit/credit card, and/or your mobile phone so you can easily vote for your favorite contestants. You might also want to bribe a judge with cash or another special treat.
Do I have to wear a costume?
This year’s theme, Saturday Night Beaver, inspires all sorts of costume ideas: bell-bottoms, sequins, disco balls, skin-tight lycra, and so much more. That said please wear whatever floats your beaver boat, and dress for the weather.
Is the event really family-friendly?
Yes, the event is a hit with kids of all ages due to the outrageous costumes and audience engagement. While there will be plenty of puns and double entendre about the multiple meanings of “beaver”, it is usually far too subtle for most young fans.
Kids of all ages enjoy making their very own beaver tails with the Scrap Exchange and the younger set enjoys frolicking with water toys in the play area.
So if this is a free event, how is it a fundraiser?
Secondly, you can make a financial contribution in two ways:
- Vote early and often for your favorite contestant. Though the judges, also known as the Board of Corruption, keep their selection methods secret, votes do matter when the judges select the Queen. Every vote costs $5. You can vote online before the Pageant or onsite at the Voting Booth or through your mobile device.
- You can also bribe a judge or two or three. Some judges respond to cold hard cash. Others appreciate icy drinks, popsicles, cupcakes, and shoulder massages. Judges score contestants on the quality of the bribes received.
What is the history of the Beaver Queen Pageant?
This year is the Beaver Queen Pageant’s 14th year. The event is uniquely Durham: a mash-up of community, creativity, playfulness, and advocacy for a cause.
The first event was held in April of 2005 in celebration of a successful community effort by the Duke Park neighborhood to stop the NC Department of Transportation from eradicating a den of beavers that had taken up residence in wetlands north of I-85. Beverly Woody was crowned the first Beaver Queen following an amazing clog dancing routine.
The following year 6 people wanted to compete for the crown of Beaver Queen and The Beaver Lodge 1504 organized a formal pageant for the multitudes. Celebrity judges and bribes became the norm. Since the beginning well over 50 people of many genders, races, and orientations have competed for the coveted Beaver Queen crown and a uniquely Durham tradition has grown. The Pageant typically raises about $15,000 for ECWA.
We’ve even had our first interspecies Queen: Miz Polly Nator was crowned the 2015 Beaver Queen and helped make Durham a Bee City. This national designation raises awareness about the many contributions of bees and other pollinators to the environment and food system.