Monday, May 25, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Dozens of men gathered inside downtown’s Pullman Grille this month to settle a debate that has plagued such prominent figures as Salvador Dali and Col. Sanders: Who has the best facial hair?
As contestants in the May 16 Whiskerino Contest, part of the annual cultural festival known as the Las Vegas Elks’ Helldorado Days, the men subjected themselves to the scrutiny of volunteer judges to determine who would take the comb for longest beard, most unique beard, longest mustache, best mustache, best overall and audience favorite.
Hairstyle: Man bun
Competed for: Best mustache and most unique beard
A last-minute competitor, Runnells, who has been growing out his facial hair for the past six months, decided to enter the contest at the suggestion of admiring bar patrons. He never hesitates to show off his “labor of love.”
And what labor it is. Runnells spends time each morning massaging his 3-inch faux-patch and 5-inch mustache with wax to make it manageable. He often wakes up to find it in disarray.
He also keeps his hairs happy with frequent trims and combing.
“The hair itself tells me what to do,” Runnells said.
Hairstyle: Curly mustache and full, grayish beard
Competed for: Longest mustache and best overall
Facial hair is about more than just aesthetics to Bielefeldt. It is a companion that tells the story of time, he said.
“It always changes and goes through a lot of mutations, like me,” said Bielefeldt, who kept his beard trimmed short in his younger years.
Now, 10 years later, Bielefeldt maintains roughly 2 feet of whiskers by brushing and combing them daily. He keeps products off his beard (which he wants to keep natural), opting instead to use them to style his mustache, which he rolled especially for the competition.
His greatest pet peeve: Getting his luscious facial locks caught in car doors.
Hairstyle: Extremely long, single braid of hair
Competed for: Most unique (first place) and best overall (second place)
For Riordan, growing his 5-foot-long beard has been a 14-year mental game that stems from his competitiveness.
“When I’d go to concerts, there was lots of facial hair,” he said. “So I’d compare myself to everyone and see if I could get a longer (beard).”
Having such long hair comes with challenges. Riordan said it is difficult to work out and sleep without getting tangled. His job as a construction worker means he spends four hours every few days binding his hair together with rubber bands to keep it from being a safety hazard. He lets it all out on the weekends, though.
All of the hardships, he said, are worth it to compete in contests such as the Whiskerino, which donates proceeds to charity.
Hairstyle: Two curly strands
Competed for: Longest mustache and best mustache
Rocking what is known as a Fu Manchu, Watson’s facial hair checks in at 1 foot long, a length that made him competitive in his contest categories but that can get annoying.
“I sometimes wake up with (hair) in my eye,” he said.
Apart from keeping his chin free of hair, Watson’s whiskers require little maintenance as his strands, which he has been growing for 10 years, are naturally colored and curly.
Watson also is conscious of the products he uses on his facial hair and opts to use only a few to avoid altering or damaging his natural look.
Hair style: Wolverine beard
Competed for: Most unique beard (second place) and audience favorite
For the past 12 years, Barfield and his “racing stripes” have earned compliments from women and men alike.
“I’ve always had a beard, but I woke up one day, and I wanted something different,” he said of his eye-catching pattern.
The means to achieving his beard is a secret Barfield would like to keep to himself. But he said the upkeep of his “yike stripes” is relatively easy. A simple trim once a week is enough to keep the compliments flowing.