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Commentary: Beards barrage Columbus at BeardCon

Ah, the old beard convention. A gathering of fans of weird beards and mouth brows, complete with a beard and mustache competition, freestyle beard-styling demonstrations, children’s games, a Chinese auction, vendors galore and discussion panels. Remember when you first heard about it? No?

The third annual BeardCon convention took place Saturday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. And those who got the memo were in for a treat.

The nearly 35 vendors were out in full force, peddling old classics and new styles. Stick-on and temporary tattoo mustaches were accompanied by mustache-shaped soaps and suckers, T-shirts, trucker hats, facial hair styling products, mustache and beard-themed accessories such as wallets and, my personal favorite, “The Beerd Koozie,” to keep cans cold in hairy style.

Taking a close second was a new one for me: a fantastic yarn beard for my face. A great find for the lady who wants a warm face, but not the hassle of extra testosterone and masculine characteristics. It also doubles as a Halloween accessory because, well, you never know when a beard is needed until it’s needed.

Beard and mustache clubs and societies were well represented from cities throughout the East and Midwest, such as Philadelphia, Rochester, N.Y. and Nashville, as well as Canada. And the facial hair was all over the place. Styled and curled, long, short, pencil thin, thick and groomed, on the young and old and in nearly every natural color.

Fans of facial hair have gained public momentum from the reality series “Whisker Wars,” an Independent Film Channel original that follows team competitors as they vie for a chance at the prestigious World Championship Competition in Norway. Season 2 premieres Nov. 23 at 10 p.m., just in time to celebrate November as National Beard Month.

Beard competitions consist of individuals going head-to-head or competing as teams. Team competitors enter under the name of their respected clubs and societies, and clash with other clubs and societies. Club entries advance as a whole, with bragging rights for membership, and individuals advance on a per person basis.

Grandma here isn’t rock ‘n’ roll enough to have stayed late enough for the results of the competition, but I have a prediction: the beautifully curled, ginger-hued full-beard probably came out a winner.

I don’t know how much time he spent on producing such perfect curls, but a teenage homecoming queen probably has nothing on a full ginger beard in curlers.

Dress was 1860s dapper sheik or rock ‘n’ roll handsome, complete with felt top hats and derbies to match styled and groomed beards and mustaches.

Throughout the afternoon were discussion panels on such topics as social hair club history and benefits, how to start a beard club and marketing and merchandising in the beard industry.

Although facial hair is often thought of as an adult feature, children were included in the convention with games offering mustache and beard-themed prizes and even a kids’ and women’s beard and mustache competition.

The official name of the artificial bearded ladies is “Whiskerinas.” These clubs and societies are full of fanatic ladies that appreciate a beard and mustache so much they create them artistically out of yarn, paper and just about any other fabric imaginable. The kids’ face-off worked the same way, because a boy that can grow a beard isn’t a boy – he’s a man.

The highlight of the evening, however, was the face-off beard and mustache competition, with nine adult categories, trophies for winners and bragging rights for title-holders. Categories included most realistic fake beard, most fantastic fake beard, styled mustache, styled partial beard, styled full beard, natural mustache, natural partial beard, natural full beard and, with the most competitors, the groomed full beard.

According to a Chinese auction representative, the convention was estimated to bring in 1,000 to 1,500 people with a few hundred actually competing for hairy titles. The admission charge of $15.00 was donated to Central Ohio Men Against Prostate Cancer. BeardCon is staying true to its facial follicles by donating to a cause as specific to men as a full, natural beard. Not that the ladies can’t compete for bearded recognition.

One comment

  1. When and where is the next beard contest?

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