Bootblack Contests

A bootblack contest (or bootblack competition) is an organized event in which multiple bootblacks are brought together publicly to compete against one another. Competitions are often run in conjunction with a leather contest.

Competition Events

There are several types of events that are included in bootblack competitions. Most competitions include more than one event as part of the overall competition.


For judged events, a group of judges are selected by the producers of the contest. Judges are generally selected from several groups including current and former bootblack titleholders (including the current holder of the title being competed for), other experienced bootblacks, current and former non-bootblack leather titleholders, and respected individuals from the Leather Community. It is considered advantageous to balance the judging panel with some non-bootblacks.


Contestants are interviewed (either privately or publically) by the judging panel. Questions cover a wide range of topics, including one's experience as a bootblack, intentions for the future, technical questions about bootblacking, etc. Judges award points for the competitors overall interview performance.

Public Balloting

The competitors are given an allotted time during which they provide bootblacking services to contest attendees in exchange for a ballot, which is either provided in the contest weekend package or made available at the location of the balloting event. Points for the event are generally allotted proportionally to the competitors' ballot totals.

Timed Bootblacking Skills

The competitors are assigned one or more pairs of worn boots to work on for an allotted time. The judges are present to observe the competitors' performances and also to observe the competitors' interaction with their clients.

Untimed Bootblacking Skills

The competitors are assigned a pair of worn boots to polish during the competition, but the process is not observed by the judges. Generally, the bootblacks are expected to work on one of a pair of boots, leaving the other in its original state for the judges to compare against.

General Judging

The judges observe the contestants during the contest, and incorporate the contestants' behavior, interactions with the public, timeliness, attitude, and other more nebulous factors into their score.

Other Events

Some contests may include requirements that the contestants sell raffle tickets or provide a basket for auction. These events may or may not affect the contestants' scores.

List of Contests

International Level

National/Regional/Local Level

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