International Mr. Leather

International Mr. Bootblack Contest

Each year, IML brings with it the annual International Mr. Bootblack competition. Bootblacks come from all over to offer their services of boot- and leather-care to IML attendees. Each weekend package contains a ballot which the holder can exchange for a boot shine or leather conditioning with the Bootblack Contestant of their choice. Ballots may be cast for a contestant without getting one’s boots shined, if one prefers.

In 2013, we implemented a judging system to supplement the balloting system, and we couldn’t be happier with how well the judging system integrated into the contest. Balloting still makes up a significant portion of each contestant’s final score, so don’t forget to tuck your ballot in your wallet, stop by, have your boots done, and see why bootblacking is such a big deal for many people. If you’ve never had your boots worked on before, you’re in for a treat. Balloting begins with the opening of the vendor market at noon on Friday and continues during market hours through 2:00 pm on Sunday.

Open shining

    Located in the Leather Market
  • Friday, Noon - 6 pm
  • Saturday 11 am - 7 pm
  • Sunday 11 am - 2 pm

Spitshine, the Bootblack Party

Saturday 10 pm - 2 am

Contestants in the International Mr. Bootblack competition will be scored in the following four categories:

Skills – 50% of total score

Judges will observe and evaluate the bootblacks during Open Polishing. Evaluation criteria may include: speed of process, confidence, product knowledge, organization, and end results. Judges will also observe and evaluate the interaction between the contestants and their clients while the contestants are working on the clients’ boots.

Interview – 20% of total score

The judges, as a group, will conduct an interview with each contestant. Questions asked during the interview will be devised solely by the judges and will cover any topic the judges consider to be useful in selecting the contestant most suited to the title. Interviews are conducted in private, with only the contestant and judges present.

Personality and Stage Presence – 10% of total score

The judges will observe the contestant throughout the weekend and evaluate their interaction with members of the public, IMBB staff, and fellow contestants. As well, the judges will evaluate the performance of the contestants during the contestant introductions at Opening Ceremonies and the “getting to know the contestants” portion of the Bootblack Party, which will consist of a short, impromptu question and answer session between each contestant and the emcee.

Ballots – 20% of total score

Competitors will collect ballots during the Opening Polishing portions of the contest weekend. When all ballots have been tallied, the contestant(s) with the greatest number of ballots will be awarded the full 20% percentage points and the other contestants will receive points equal to the full 20% multiplied by the percentage of the highest ballot total that the contestant collected. For example, if the contestant with the highest ballot total collected 100 ballots, he would receive the full 20%. A contestant who collected 75 ballots would receive 75% of the full 20%, or 15% A contestant who collected 50 ballots would receive 50% of the full 20%, or 10%.

Selection of Winner

The contestant who receives the highest total points will be named International Mr. Bootblack. Ties between two or more contestants for first, second, or third place will be broken by comparing the ballot totals of the tied contestants. In the case that a first-place tie remains following comparison of ballot totals, the winner of the contest will be determined by secret ballot of the judges.