The first Miss Habehsa USA 2015 pageant is going to be held on April 3, 2015 at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Super Club in Maryland.

According to the event organizers, this is the first all-inclusive beauty contest for the Habesha community in North America.

“This is a pageant for both Ethiopian and Eritrean descendants, and those who are mixed with either nationalities,” said Robel Aklilu, the owner of Mitituti, the company that is organizing the event.

What also makes this pageant different than others, according to event organizers, is that it is the general public who got to pick the 20 finalists through votes they casted on the event’s website.

The online vote ended on March 3, 2015, and around 59,000 votes were cast for a total of 30 contestants.

“We usually do things on paper or orally [in our community], but we wanted to change that system using technology on this event,” said Aklilu. “Because it makes it easier for us to do our work and for the contestants too.”

The pageant was originally slated for January 19th until it was postponed to its current date in November last year. The organizers wanted to give the contestants enough time to prepare, and get as much vote they can.

The contestant leading with the most online vote (23,150) is the 27-year old Lily Teklu.  Originally from Ethiopia, Teklu is a full time model who currently lives in Dallas, Texas.

“I hope you will vote for me,” says Teklu. “Because I believe winning Miss Habesha USA 2015 is not just a name for me, but also representing the name in doing what’s important for the community.”

The second runner-up with 13,620 votes is the 26-year old Frehiwot Tamrat (a.k.a. Frita). A graduate from Adama University (Ethiopia), Frita describes herself as “simple, happy and ‘konjo’.” She currently resides in Los Angeles.

Trailing at the third place is the 25-year old Betelehem Abera with 6,210 votes.

“Nothing could stop me from being the best person I can be,” says Abera. “I am a strong, adventurous, bubbly,… professional young Ethiopian lady. I walk with my head held high and I believe I can be whoever I want to be because, I know that I am destined for greatness.”

Together with the rest of the finalists, Teklu, Frita and Abera will face the judges this coming Friday for a final showdown. The winner of the pageant will get a prize money of $2,500 beside winning the coveted title of the beauty contest.

“The most important thing is winning the crown,” Aklilu told GIZEYAT. “But the winners will be further rewarded throughout our future activities with them.”

Aklilu expects around 600 people to attend the beauty contest.  He established Mitituti four years ago but this is the first time for his event company to host a beauty pageant, and he plans to make it a yearly event.