Red All About It: Teen Girl Wins Most Ginger Contest

Vigdis Birna receives her award for being named the Most Redheaded Icelander from Frída Kristin, event manager of Akranes, Iceland. (Sunna Gautadottir/Zenger)

A teenage girl has been named the “Most Redheaded Icelander” at a festival in a local town that honors its Irish roots.

“Vigdis Birna won the competition this year. She is 13 years old and lives in Akranes in west Iceland,” said Sigrun Agusta, spokesperson for the local council.

The competition was hosted for the 22nd time, and the winner was awarded a voucher for Icelandair travel.

Vigdis Birna, who won the competition for the Most Redheaded Icelander. (Sunna Gautadottir/Zenger)

“The redhead competition is hosted during the Irish Days festival, which we celebrate every year in our hometown Akranes,” said Agusta.

Akranes is about 12 miles north of the capital Reykjavík.

The festival, which celebrates the town’s Irish heritage, stems from when brothers Thormódur and Ketill Bresason settled the then-uninhabited region with their adult children and other companions in A.D. 880.

Thus, the people of Akranes are of Irish descent and share many similarities with their kinsman, including, it is said, good cheer and love of soccer.

Helga Dis, who took second place at the competition for the Most Redheaded Icelander. (Sunna Gautadottir/Zenger)

The Irish arrived in Akranes in the first years of the Icelandic settlement; the name came later and is traced to grain cultivation and agriculture. The land was considered fertile, and farming was the community focus.

“These days, emigrants from Akranes are called home, and families are especially welcome to visit Akranes during Irish Days,” Agusta said.

Past years have seen anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 visitors attend the event.

Visitors come to enjoy the Irish-Icelandic cultural mix. Irish flags are flown everywhere, and there is a variety of entertainment, street markets, sports and beach activities. One of the favorite competitions is to discover the most redheaded Icelander.

Rurik Logi, who won third place at the competition for the Most Redheaded Icelander. (Sunna Gautadottir/Zenger)

Barbecue parties are held throughout the time. The main festival area is around Jadarsbakkar and Langasandur, which welcome both domestic and foreign guests.

The town was officially chartered in 1942 and saw an uptick in its population growth. Now, Akranes has a population of approximately 6,700 people. The town sits at the base of the basalt mountain Akrafjall. It also contains a folk museum and a few homes and boats from the 19th century.

Vigdis told local media that she is very proud of her ginger locks. Her rivals: Helga Dis came in second and Rurik Logi finished third.

Red, or ginger as it is known, is the rarest hair color in the world; it is found most frequently in Ireland and Scotland. Red hair and blue eyes are less common because they are carried by recessive genes. Brown hair and brown eyes are dominant.

(Edited by Fern Siegel and Judith Isacoff)



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