Oktobeardfest 2017 gave men and women alike the chance to prove their facial hair was a cut above the rest.
The yearly beard and mustache competition featured a variety of categories for contestants to show off their growing and grooming skills. Styled, natural and fake mustaches, full beards, partial beards, fake beards and freestyle were all included.
Though all of the contestants were competing for bragging rights and impressive trophies, the real winners of the night were the children. All proceeds from the event benefitted Camp Alexander to provide scholarships for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.
“Thank you everybody who has participated,” April Armstrong, organizer of Oktobeardfest said. “Everyone who is here tonight, thank you for coming, and to the people who have donated their time and energy, we could not do this without all of you. Thank you for doing this for such a good cause.”
Preparing for a beard and mustache competition isn’t easy. Not only are contestants racing time in hopes their facial hair will grow fast enough to enter the category of their choosing, but they are also grooming and sculpting their facial hair to perfection.
John Armstrong of Emporia was competing in the business beard category, which is classified as a full beard three-to-six inches in length. Armstrong has been growing a beard for years and usually competes in the nine-inch-plus category. However, he recently cut his beard for a chops competition.
Now with a shorter beard, Armstrong spent several days in advance of the competition preparing his beard for show.
“This is ridiculous, and I don’t like it, but I went three days without washing it and I’ve blow dried it,” Armstrong said. “The blow dryer shrinks that hair up tight and gets my kinky hair even tighter. My beard probably stretched out is five inches, but I have kinky hair, so legally I’m three inches if I do this ahead of time.”
Training facial hair — especially those stylized mustaches — can take time and good products. Jeff Quintana, of Emporia, made an appearance with his mustache perfectly styled in curls at the lip. The effort brought him a first-place finish.
Judges at the ready
Serving as a judge for Oktobeardfest is a coveted title. This year the competition featured five judges. Each judge had a different take on what they were looking for in the perfect beard.
“I’m looking for a beard with personality,” judge Zach Hacker said.
“Density is important for me,” judge Maranda Buczinski said. “But when you see the right beard, you just know.”
Carla Fessler serves as the off-season director of Camp Alexander and this year also served as a judge at Oktobeardfest. She was thrilled to learn the proceeds of the event would benefit camp and was excited to serve as a judge.
“When April (Armstrong) contacted me about the proceeds benefiting camp and serving as a judge, I was excited,” Fessler said. “I just think this is an awesome event, and it benefits an awesome camp. Because of this, kids who would never be able to attend camp otherwise will now be able to enjoy time at camp and experience the fun.”
Judges had a front row seat to watch contestants on stage. After finishing their stage presentation, the contestants made another trip past the judges’ table to show off their whiskers.
Winners in each category received a trophy and bragging rights. Attendees and competitors alike had the opportunity to bid on an assortment of silent auction items. Explicit needlework pieces, tickets to sporting events and wine and beer ensembles raised additional funds for Camp Alexander.
Final amounts are still being tallied, but organizers estimate the event raised at least $3,700 for Camp Alexander — which is a $500 increase from last year.
Final results of the competition are:
1. Patrick Shields
2. Fletcher Smith
3. Michael Lang
1. Jeff Quintana
2. Alex Polzin
1. April Armstrong
2. Missy Fulkerson
1. Clair Jones
2. Jerrod McNutt
3. Thomas Herring
1. Kayla Lang
2. Tiffany Griffin
3. Ashley Lang
1. Omar Shirfin
2. Sean Otto
3. Rocky Hill
1. Michael White
2. Jason Brinkman
3. Bill Yates
Full Beard 3” - 6”
1. “Chris Kringle”
2. Johnny Rogers
3. Josh McConville
Full Beard 6” - 9”
1. Andrew Herd
2. Brandon Moxley
3. Shane Barrett
Full Beard 9” and over
1. Matt Best
2. Joe Setfridge
Best in Show
1. Andrew Herd
2. Patrick Shields