(23 Jul 2018) LEADIN:
Thousands of red-haired people and animals have been gathering in the Russian city of Nizhny Tagil for an annual festival.
Men, women, children, cats and even chickens have been strutting their flame haired stuff – celebrating all things red head.
Under the slogan “Let’s Make Life Brighter”, people have been turning Nizhny Tagil red and orange to celebrate the beauty of being red-haired.
A small city with the population just over 300,000 people, Nizhny Tagil is more famous as a centre of heavy industry and defence production in the middle of Russia.
But today, it’s all about the bright colours and happy atmosphere of the festival.  
Director of Tourism Development Centre in Nizhny Tagil, Yevgeny Nagorny, says people are often surprised that the city is playing host to such a festival that compares with world leading Redhead events in Ireland and the Netherlands.
“When we mention the Redhead Festival, everybody asks, ‘where?’ We say, ‘in Nizhny Tagil’. They say, ‘it’s not possible! Do you have that many red-headed people?’ Statistics show that we have the same proportion of redheads as in any other city, but on this particular day the amount of redheads (in Nizhny Tagil) goes off the scale.”
After registering and receiving a badge of participation, red-headed guests and their friends walk along the main street of the city and take part in an open-air concert.
Tatyana, a participant of the parade, says she found it hard to be a redhead when she was younger, but has no regrets now.
“In my childhood it wasn’t great at all. In my childhood I was teased. I was the only one with red hair among my peers, so I didn’t even have any ‘partners in crime’. It wasn’t great at all. But now it is of course great, it is really cool, I am very glad,” she says.
Festival-goer Dmitry Telegin is married to a red head and says he wishes he could have red hair too.
“I also want to be a redhead, but I cannot make it. Red-headed people are the happiest people. And those people who are next to them are the happiest (people too). I am the happiest person because well, perhaps not only because my wife is redhead, but in general. Well, I married her because she has such long and such red hair.”
At the festival people dance and enjoy the festival atmosphere.
“We are all redhead in fact. The main thing is to be cheerful and open,” says Artyom Vlasov.
During the day a man and a woman are crowned as ‘King and Queen of the Redheads’.
This year’s ‘Queen of the Redheads’, Aleksandra Romashova, says she prefers being a redhead to her natural blond.
“I never thought that my red hair colour would ever bring me luck but red hair matches the colour of (my) eyes. That’s why I became redhead from blond. I am very happy about it,” she says.
And it’s not just about human red heads. There’s a vintage car show and a pet competition.
Various dog breeds and other animals vie for the title of ‘The Most Redhead Pet’.
This year’s first prize goes to a chicken named ‘Ryaba’.
Owner Nikolay Popovich, says she is a good hen.
“The reddish breed is a decorative one, like this hen. But it still lays eggs, small ones.”
‘Apelsin’ the marmalade cat didn’t make the top prize this year. Owner Evgeny Gryazev says his pet is feeling quite overwhelmed.
“We took it from an animal shelter and nursed it. It used to be very small but now it is grown up. At home it is more energetic, it runs and jumps, but here it is scared.”
The vintage cars and motorcycles on show also attract a lot of attention.
Kormiltsev says he treats the car with care and only drives it on weekends or special occasions.

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