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March 29, 2015

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Yes, by the hair of their chinny-chin-chins

Beard and mustache contest draws 300 competitors to Las Vegas


Leila Navidi

Jeremy Day of Las Vegas will compete in the full beard natural category of the 2012 National Beard and Mustache Championships held in Las Vegas on November 11. Day was photographed on November 9, 2012 in Henderson with his daughter Vivian Day, 4.

Las Vegas is home to the wild world of competitive facial hair this weekend, and several bearded and mustachioed Southern Nevadans will be entering their whiskers into competition for the first time.

The third annual Beard Team USA National Beard and Moustache Championships are coming to Las Vegas for the first time, and at least 10 of the contestants are from Southern Nevada.

An estimated 300 competitors with gifted facial follicles will compete in categories such as Dali, Fu Manchu, Garibaldi, sideburns, Hungarian and English.

There are 18 categories in all, which are divided into three divisions: partial beard, full beard and mustache.

The competitors face off head-to-head and are critiqued by a panel of judges who are asked to determine which contestant's facial hair best enhances his overall appearance, style, and personality. In the freestyle categories, the judges will be asked to consider originality and creativity, as well.

No artificial hair is permitted, and only certain categories allow "aids," defined as artificial styling aids such as moustache wax, hair spray, hair cream, styling foam, hair gel, hair pins, rubber bands, hair ties and similar items.

The Championship starts at noon Sunday at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater. Admission costs $10.

Here is a look at five local contestants in this year's competition.

    • Wolfe Thompson

      Age: 57

      Occupation: Attorney and arbitrator

      Competition category: Verdi (named for 19th-century composer Giussepe Verdi, who sported a full beard of medium length with a stylized mustache)

      Beard history: "I grew a beard as soon as I was out of high school and never looked back."

      Public reception: "I get a lot of teenagers who stop me, call my beard 'epic' and want to take a picture with me. For the younger generation coming up, I think it represents freedom, creativity and independence."

      Reasons he likes the beard: "Well, I have sensitive skin and get razor burn, so that was a reason to start. ... I think there is a positive association with beards. People think of maturity, wisdom. Think of the ancient philosophers; they all had beards."

      Answers to common questions: No, it's not hot. Once you get past the initial phase and trim it once, it's no longer itchy.

    • Jeremy Day

      Age: 37

      Occupation: Tattoo artist and owner of Henderson's Golden Dragon Tattoo

      Competition category: Full Beard Natural

      Time it took to grow current beard: 18 months

      Beard care kit: Coconut oil, large brush, Bluebeard facial hair care products

      Food nemesis: Salads, especially shaved carrots

      Beard history: "I've been able to grow a beard since I was 14. It grows so fast, I had to shave three times a day when I tried to join the military. It was ridiculous."

      On a local beard community: "I want to start a local chapter of Beard Team USA, and we'll call it Battle Born Beards. I hope to meet people at the competition to get the chapter started."

    • Chuck Bean

      Age: 41

      Occupation: High school physics teacher

      Competition category: Sideburns (for maximum effect, Bean will shave his beard and leave the sideburns just before the competition)

      Beard history: "I've had a beard since I was 28. I'd grow it out and cut it and sometimes do goofy things with it. One time, I had a contest for my students and the winner got to decide how I should cut it. He said I should do a stripe — shave the middle of the beard and line down the middle of my head."

      Wife's reaction: "She has known me since college, so it's no surprise. She's pretty reasonable, but she is probably looking forward to me cutting it off."

      Time it took to grow current beard: 13 months

      Unexpected consequences: "Now it's so long that when I roll over in bed it will get caught under my shoulder. I have to be careful around fans and stuff like that."

    • Kevin Riordan

      Age: 32

      Occupation: Operating engineer

      Competition category: Partial Beard Freestyle

      Competition history: Riordan is a two-time Beard Team USA champion in the natural goatee category. However, this year, after objections from some involved with the competition, Riordan was asked to switch categories because of the rubber bands he uses to style his beard. He is now entered in a category that specifically allows "styling aids."

      On safety: "I've stepped on it running up the stairs before, and I fell face first. At work I wear a full-body mechanic's suit and tuck it in. Whenever the welders are around, I stay away from them."

      Inspiration: "My dad had a big Yosemite Sam-like mustache, and he was sort of known for it around town. He was my facial hair idol."

      Time it took to grow current beard: 12 years

      Maintenance: "It takes me four hours to undo the rubber bands, wash it and redo everything, so I do that about once a month. I get it wet and wrap a towel around it every day.

      How it impacts his dating life: "A lot of women see it and want to touch it and stuff, but a lot of them don't want to go out on a date. At the end of the day, I am who I am, and I don't want to change for someone else."

    • Brian Ballentine

      Age: 30

      Occupation: High school U.S. government teacher

      Competition Category: Garibaldi (named for 19th-century Italian national hero Giusepe Garibaldi. The beard is big, full and natural. It's considered to be a little longer than the Verdi but shorter than most beards in the full natural category)

      Beard history: "I've been bearded since June 2010."

      Drawbacks: "Some people are rude and will say things like, 'You look like Charles Manson.' That's really insulting. I feel like I get discriminated against sometimes."

      Reason why he grew a beard: "I've always wanted to grow a beard. I hate shaving, and beards are the natural way to go. My beard is thick and grows fast, and I was spending too much money on razors."

      Beard care products: Morrocan beard oil, tea tree shampoo

      Food nemesis: Honey and caramel

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    1. It would be very interesting to know how many of these contestants use the Henderson library system.

    2. Some truly impressive offerings here from some brave souls.

      I grew my first ZZ Top beard in the mid 70s. It's been my experience every time I shaved it off for either a job or a woman, neither was worth it. So have not been clean shaven since about '83.

      I see none of your featured mentioned the beard/big 'stache true nemesis -- ice cream cones!

      Now if there was a local place to buy Utilitkilts We the Hairy-Faced could truly be complete!

      "See my beard? / Ain't it weird? / Don't be scared! / Just a beard!" -- the late, great George Carlin's "Hair Poem"

    3. I don't think beards are attractive on most men but then I don't think skinny leg jeans are attractive on most women. To each their own.