Organisers of Mr Gay World have finally announced that Knysna, South Africa's picturesque coastal hamlet, will be the official host city of the Mr Gay World 2018 pageant.
This will be the third time that South Africa has presented the prestigious event; a world first. It will also be the second time that the contest will be held during the Pink Loerie festival, which organisers call "Africa's biggest LGBTIQ+ cultural festival".
The small town, located along Western Cape's Garden Route (also called "The Pink Route"), will welcome hundreds of queer visitors in May, when the 10th edition of the annual event comes to town.
Breaking news! The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival will make history by hosting the 10th Mr Gay World... https://t.co/MO4GGZfh1z— Mr.GayWorldSA (@MRGWSA) December 22, 2017
Eric Butter, president of Mr Gay World, revealed that three other cities had expressed interest in hosting the next Mr Gay World, but "when the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival Knysna 2018 came forward, I couldn't have been more overjoyed".
He explained: "The 10th Mr Gay World marks a milestone and is very important for our organisation. We have worked with the team in South Africa twice, and it has always been a great pleasure; they have the very best work ethic, and they always deliver a world-class event."
Butter added: "We also decided on South Africa because we wanted the international community to support the rebuilding of Knysna after the devastating fires in June, by incorporating it with the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival Knysna 2018."
Since the blazes ravaged the region, the Pink Loerie organisers have played an active role in raising funds, sourcing material assistance and bringing awareness about the crisis in order to bolster the local community.
This was acknowledged by the executive mayor of Knysna, Eleanore Bouw-Spies, who thanked the festival for its efforts. She and the Knysna Municipality also enthusiastically welcomed the town's hosting of Mr Gay World 2018 as a further boost to its recovery.
"I do not hesitate in throwing my support behind this initiative and categorically state this event carries my full endorsement," said Bouw-Spies.
"With the added benefit of hosting Mr Gay World, the 2018 Pink Loerie will, without a doubt, lure more visitors to our legendary LGBTIQ+ festival and beautiful area."
Bouw-Spies continued: "Greater Knysna will receive much-needed national and international exposure, proving to the world that we are most definitely 'open for business' despite the terrible tragedy of the recent fires."
South Africa will be represented at the event by 23-year-old photographer Juan Pinnick.
Juan Pinnick, a 23-year-old photographer from Bloemfontein, walked away with the 2017 Mr Gay World Southern... https://t.co/Wgb0fWuSgQ— Mr.GayWorldSA (@MRGWSA) September 25, 2017