The first Sunday in September is typically the time when a village in Italy holds something called the Festival of the Ugly.
Though, when you learn more about it, the festival actually sounds kind of nice.
The village is named Piobbico.
It’s home to about 2,000 people, but it’s long been connected to tens of thousands of people who are members of the World Association of Ugly People.
Back in 1879, Piobbico founded the Club dei Brutti – the Ugly Club – which at that time was a sort of matchmaking service for people who couldn’t find spouses.
By the 1960s, they adopted a broader approach, summed up in the motto “Ugliness is a virtue, beauty is slavery.”
They were gently and satirically pointing out that there are a lot of people in the world who maybe don’t have movie star looks but are kind, funny, creative and generous and all the other good things that are usually more valuable than looks.
The World Association of Ugly People has 25 chapters representing many corners of the globe.
But, once a year, members gather for the Festival of the Ugly to carry out the association’s business in person.
They elect a new president, they eat some great food (truffles are a popular choice, because they look weird but taste great) and they add new members to the ranks.
The way you join is by ranking other people’s looks, out loud, in person.
The scale goes from something like “ehhh” all the way to “oh wow.”
And if you’re rated ugly, that’s fine!
You get a membership card, and also, you’re in a town that encourages people to just not worry about looks at all!
There’s a statue of an ugly person in the middle of town, so no matter what you look like, you’ll feel like you’re in the right place.
Starting today in Mill Spring, North Carolina, it’s the Earl Scruggs Music Festival.
Three days of bluegrass music right near the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Ugly Club (Orion Magazine)