Spoedlevering1st prize winners Spoedlevering

In a tiny village called Valkenburg, in the southern Netherlands, there is a living statue competition held every July. Holland has a rich culture of human statues, with many different companies hiring them for events around the country. 30 living sculptures came to compete against each other in Valkenburg this year, and as a living statue myself, I was happy to have a chance to attend to (steal all their secrets and) document the event.


Through out the quaint streets were hoards of people around each statue. There was a 5 kilometer walk of 30 different statues scattered throughout the river side pathways in this pastel painted resort town. Each statue was different, and there was a huge range of unique ideas. Some, like Belmoment, were traditional in their metallic styled costumes, but with a great level of detail and always with a slight twist of character that differ from your average street statues.

Eddy Koepler Loses AgainEddy Koepler Loses Again

The festival organizers took great care to place the statues in the right placements around town. This statue Eddy Koepler, fooled me into believe he was a mannequin! It’s not my fault, it was a sweltering hot day so I was delirious, and he was placed outside the bicycle shop. OR, he was just that good.

De ZakenmanDe Zakenman

This man made crowds gasp and scream as he fell backwards into this pose. It’s a great gag, and his stillness was magical also. Take a look at this short Time Lapse to get a better feeling of his act.


Scrooge was my favorite moment of the festival. He forces people who tip him to hold onto his lamp and pose with him. While I was busy taking pictures, this poor woman was tortured into participating! In an attempt to help I tipped him so she could move and leave.  BANG BANG BANG his cane smashes his box as I walk away. He mimes that I have to hold the lamp now. My camera still in my hand, I pick it up and fiddle with my pockets. BANG BANG BANG he ushers me to shush and to stand still.
So I do.
For a long time.
At least it felt long with my arm stretched up.
Finally, after what felt like 5 minutes, someone comes and tips for a picture with Scrooge, and I let go.The whole crowd bursts into applause! Scrooge jokingly gives me a look of contempt for a moment, like I am stealing his show. His character was so perfect for Scrooge. Grumpy and curmudgeon, just like it should be.


The competition is judged 50% by public vote and 50% by the judges. Each statue is marked on their costume craftsmanship, interaction with the audience, originality and the movement of the statue when it is alive. The prize is an invitation to attend the World Statue Competition in September, organized and run by the same people, in Arnhem, NL.

SPACE-CI-MEN was fairly original in so far as 5 walking people is tough to pull off! Albeit, he was broken down when I saw him… The construction to make sure this all worked smoothly must have been tough to build. Yet he won 2nd place!
It’s all worth it in the end.

Sing AlongSing Along

Sing along would interact with the audiences by getting them to sing and dance along side them. Their inviting pose was to tell you it’s your turn to perform! Surprisingly, this act had no music to accompany them. It was all mimed. The people of Holland are afraid of mimes, apparently, because they wouldn’t sing or dance. I felt this act needed an actual karaoke machine and some beer to loosen everyone up. Still,  I loved the enthusiasm they gave despite the cold response to their attempts at interaction.

Qin TwinQin Twin

One of the most amusing acts of the festival due to their interaction with the crowds. They would pound their sticks on their blocks 3 times before they closed the gates, but some people thought they could sneak through. Check out the face on the man in the back as the twins close the gates to the path.


Surprise! They are alive!

You could open or close the gates if you tipped them, which is amusing if you have an endless pocket of coins…

Ranjakok in het GroenRanjakok in het Groen

This statue was basically ‘selling’ drinks. His costume and his clowning was great (my favorite color! YES! Lime Mimes unite!) However, the schtick to get people to give him tips was much more aggressive than all the other statues, it was too pushy. But, he did some classic clown moves, and was fun. It did warm your heart when he would squeal with happiness after a cute little girl gave him a kiss on the cheek.


He holds the key to heaven. When you tip him, he will bless you by drawing a cross on your forehead (it burns, it burns!) Great costume and a wonderful pose. He held the best stillness of the festival. Also well placed by the gates to cross the river at this castle-esque monument that suited him. Classic statue work, and he did it well.

18e Eeuwese Hertogin
18e Eeuwese Hertogin

Let’s be honest, this festival is a street theater event and is not busking. The festival pays the statues to compete, as does the festival in Arnhem. This statue in particular was not prepared to be tipped and had no tip jar. People continued to want to tip, so they would just throw it at her feet! It suited the character well, and I had laugh watching her try to kneel in her stiff dress to pick up the coins before she went for a break (because I am evil… and because I know what it’s like).


Bronst the cave man standing on his mini-cave. His movement wasn’t great, he was ‘too human’, but his costume is fabulous! Bronst would hide in his little cave, or invite others to take a photo with him inside it. It was a great use of props and cave-plinth.

 Baron von MunchhausenBaron von Munchhausen

What a character! Both friendly, interactive and fun to watch. Every 5 minutes his canon would sound, he would fall onto the cannon ball beneath him, and the whole plinth would smoke as he continued to ‘ride on the ball’. The level of detail in his costume is impeccable. So many little pieces to ensure the character is believable. The technology to make the smoke machine work is also interesting. I am curious how the steam was timed, or if he has a pedal on the stand which I couldn’t see. Either way, great costume, great fun!

I didn’t catch every statue at the festival, because they would often take breaks to hide from the make-up melting weather. Even doubling back a few times, I unfortunately missed their acts. However, you can find a full album of all the statues here and See the winners here.

Winners of the competition
Photo from the website