Beardtoberfest 2011: a hair-raising event

Southern+Belle+beard+contest+winner+Meghan+Spivey+11+%28center%29+wore+a+complete+pirate+ensemble+to+secure+her+place+as+first+in+the+competition+and+in+the+hearts+of+the+audience.+%28Courtesy+of+Travis+May%29

Southern Belle beard contest winner Meghan Spivey ’11 (center) wore a complete pirate ensemble to secure her place as first in the competition and in the hearts of the audience. (Courtesy of Travis May)

Hairy chins and fancy staches can only mean one thing: Beardtoberfest 2011!

 On Oct 14, the Blind Tiger bar and concert venue on Spring Garden Street hosted a good time for a good cause. Organized by the Beard and Moustache Club of North Carolina, the unique event cost $10 at the door and $5 for participants with 100 percent of proceeds going to the Down Syndrome Network of Greater Greensboro.

“We want to transform the way people see beards,” said Michael Duez, a member of the Beard and Moustache Club. “We want people to see a man with a beard and say, ‘Hey, that guy is about helping people in the community.'”

The evening consisted of a heated competition for best facial hair in four categories, as well as performances by three bands, The Quiet Brace, Another Roadside Attraction, and Future Ghosts.

The night began with an introduction to the Down Syndrome Network and their mission, an expression of gratitude for the audience’s attendance, and thanks to the Beard and Moustache Club for their organized support.

Then the moustache madness ensued with both natural and styled moustache battles. Men with what looked like caterpillars beneath their noses took the stage and the crowd roared in anticipation. Their finger-whistling sent chills down my spine, officially grabbing my attention. An announcer invited natural moustached contestants to step forward and present their facial hair to the judges. Based on a score card assessing density, length, color, and overall look, the judges thoughtfully determined a winner.

But the judges’ selection was not the only deciding factor. The crowd also assessed the contestants with their fine-toothed comb and audience response was measured and considered when awarding the honor of “best moustache.”

Next, the styled mustache category drew curlicues, ringlets, and lots of hair gel to the stage. A winner was selected and each of the moustache extraordinaires received a t-shirt as a prize.

Musical act The Quiet Brace transformed the atmosphere with their heavy beats and attractive tunes, setting the stage for the beards’ debut.

Corporate and freestyle beards, otherwise known on the streets as “groomed” and “wild” beards, were up next for evaluation. No beard was left unstroked.

Each competitor stepped forward, groping their chin-hair with mesmerizing technique. In the end, the mighty shrills from the beard-enthusiast cheerleading section chose the victors.

A Greensboro favorite, the band Another Roadside Attraction, sported black hats and striped skirts and pants as they strummed and sang for the venue. Their handmade patches, matchboxes, and printed t-shirts were snagged by guests within a few short hours.

And then, at last, the highly-anticipated headliner beard contests were underway, and the best beards of the night were about to face the steepest critique.

First the Southern Belle contestants entered the arena, strutting proudly with the strapped, glued, and fastened hair dangling from their chins. A row of bearded ladies stood before the audience, caressing their faux facial hair and smiling with pride.

This year, the Belles set a lengthy standard for future Belles-to-be. In one case, a woman was asked by the Master of Ceremonies what she used to create her long, full, red beard and she replied, “human hair.” The crowd went silent in astonishment.

But it was a Guilford alumna who won the viewers’ vote in the end. Meghan Spivey ’11 curtsied in her pirate ensemble as her jet black beard and moustache combo flowed from her face. A clear first-place winner, Spivey surely did not walk home empty-handed. Winners of all competitions left the stage with a t-shirt showcasing the Beard and Moustache club’s logo of a bearded skeleton as well as a frame-worthy first-place certificate.

While the Belles exited the stage, the Full Beards marched on. Locks of gray, red, black, and brown captivated the room and the MC introduced the eight men one by one.

One man boasted that he hadn’t shaved in 14 years and another did a jig with a tobacco pipe in hand, undoubtedly appealing to the Irish audience in the bar that night.

Then the champion stepped forth and displayed his flawless facial hair for the crowd.

With a quick flick or slow stroke of his mighty beard, he instantaneously proved to be the superior beard owner. The density was solid, the length impressive, and the color a fiery red. The others, though true competitors, were no match for the hair of this man.

His name? Chris Kelly. Former Guilford student Kelly showed Greensboro what sustainable hygiene looks like through the grace of a billowing beard and moustache magic. Kelly, the official Full Beard Natural contest winner of 2011, has been bearded for six and a half years with no intention of shaving in the near future.