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The Cabbage Patch Kid contest that attracted hundreds

Cabbage Patch Kids were so popular in 1984 that almost 300 kids entered their dolls in a contest to determine whose was the best.

Calgary mall hosted 1984 doll pageant that lasted over three hours

The Deer Valley shopping mall hosts a beauty contest for the popular dolls in 1984. 1:43

There was no questioning that Cabbage Patch Kids were popular.

The scarcity of the dolls had almost started riots ahead of Christmas 1983, and hundreds of enthusiasts brought their dolls to a "birthday party" in the summer of 1984.

Lest anyone worry that the cabbage patch was in danger of drying up, they turned up by the hundreds at a pageant held by a Calgary shopping mall on Dec. 1, 1984.

"We're very, very pleased with the turnout," said a spokeswoman for the Deer Valley Market Place. "Of course, Cabbage Patch is popular but we had no idea there would be this many people here today."

384 contest entrants

Ralph Klein (back row centre), then mayor of Calgary, even turned out for the contest. "He didn't have an entry," noted the reporter. (Calgary Newshour/CBC Archives)
   

There were 384 dolls registered for the contest by 274 kids. Each child was allowed multiple entries, up to a limit of six dolls.

Even Calgary mayor Ralph Klein came out to watch as kids showed off their dolls in several categories, including: Best Dressed, Most Original Costume, Most Talented, and Evening Dress.

Talents included ballet, which involved a girl manipulating a doll dressed as a ballerina, and breakdancing, with a boy operating a doll wearing Adidas-like runners and a tracksuit.

Big job for judges

Santa Claus (left) was a member of the judging panel for the contest. (Calgary Newshour/CBC Archives)

A panel of judges could be seen filling out score sheets, with water glasses in front of them.

The refreshments were definitely necessary: the afternoon's events also included tap dancers in cowboy hats doing a routine to fiddle music.

"They haven't announced [a winner] yet, but I think I did pretty good," said a girl clutching a red-headed doll in a blue dress and fur jacket.

Reporter Bob Nicholson said some parents found the three-hour event "exhausting."

"It's the thing to do, have a Cabbage Patch," said a mom. "It's kind of neat for the kids."

Nicholson didn't reveal the winner, but he had a conclusion.

"There may or may not be any social significance to the fact that hundreds of people are willing to spend an entire afternoon on their feet at a doll beauty contest," he said. "But one thing's for sure: it won't hurt business at the Deer Valley shopping centre this Christmas."

A girl with a redheaded Cabbage Patch Kid entered in the Evening Dress category admitted she was nervous. (Calgary Newshour/CBC Archives)