The St. Dervil’s Monastery singing iguanas will be favored in the talent portion of Saturday’s Iguana Beauty Contest at Blacktip Island’s Heritage House. (photo courtesy of MAKY.OREL)
The Blacktip Island Iguana Appreciation Society will host its inaugural Iguana Pageant this Saturday at the small Caribbean island’s Heritage House to increase awareness of the island’s native iguanas and to raise money for purchasing future nesting habitat.
“Folks have beauty contests for everything under the sun, so we thought, ‘why not iguanas?’” BIIAS president Clete Horn said. “The beauty of these animals is greatly underrated. And each has its own unique personality. Sure, they’re not as cuddly as dogs or babies, but they deserve their time in the spotlight.
“We’ll start the event with the round-up phase, where folks have an hour to catch an iguana to show,” Horn said. “After that, there’s a 30-minute first aid break to patch up any cuts, slashes and bites, then it’s on to the pageant. We’re doing it at the Heritage House, where the iguana population’s the thickest. Proceeds’ll go to buying beachfront nesting land.”
Pageant organizers said contestant will be judged on multiple criteria.
“All iguanas will be appraised on composure, appearance and talent,” society treasurer Lucille Ray said. “We’ll have small, medium and large size divisions, to keep things fair. Also, there’ll be anole and curly-tail lizard categories for the kiddos to compete in.
“In the talent category, any of the singing iguanas from St. Dervil’s monastery will be favored,” Ray said. “Though there’s rumors Dermott Bottoms has taught a big iguana at his place to answer arithmetic questions, like in the old Vaudeville horse acts.”
Some participants say the competition is already heating up.
“I never realized how cutthroat this sort of thing can be,” Ham Pilchard said. “The mind games have already started, with people trying to psych each other out ahead of time. Somebody tossed an iguana into Rocky Shore’s bed in the middle of the night. Scared the bejesus out of him—he’s still shaking. And Alison Diesel’s been chasing the iguanas around the Heritage House to spook them and make them harder to catch.”
Tourism officials hope the event will draw more visitors to the island.
“We want people to see Blacktip is unique and has something for everyone,” Department of Tourism spokesperson Goldie Goby said. “We’re not just a diving island anymore. We’re so much more than that.
“We’re also working with the society and the agriculture department to have contestants look for invasive green iguanas during the roundup,” Goby said. “They’ll be chasing lizards through the brush anyway, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to cull any of those suckers they run across.”
Winners of each category will receive ‘Iguana Have Some Fun’ t-shirts. Best in Show will go on a two-island Caribbean tour and receive iguana-feed sponsorships, society officials said.