By Megan Turchi
BU News Service
Weird beards. Long beards. Ginger beards. Curly beards. Twisty beards. Thick mustaches. Beards made of beads, string, glitter and paper. Old men. Young men. Little kids and even women! They traveled near and far to the Beard Fest 2014 in Somerville.
“This is the 4th year, but started out in Union Square, but we moved it here,” said Gregory Jenkins, executive director of the Somerville Art Council.
Held at the Center for Arts at the Amory on Highland Avenue, old wooden floors creaked as the bearded and their fans walked through the doors of the historic building. The room was quaintly decorated with twinkling lights and paper mâché. Exposed brick walls surrounded the room and there was a purple stage in front where DJ Pace played music with a fake beard and sunglasses, songs that only the hippest of guests would recognize.
Todd Easton, now a volunteer for the arts council, asked Jenkins to start a beard festival after spending a year growing his facial hair. From this original Beard Fest, the Boston Beard Bureau was developed.
According to the Boston Beard Bureau website, the Bureau is “Boston’s local bearding team (the most rewarding and demanding sport in existence) and a member of the North American Competitive Beard and Moustache Alliance. Our mission is to promote the growth and appreciation of facial hair in the Greater Boston area.”
Many of their members were present and competing, T-shirts and all.
“Last year I lost my title, so I am here to win it back,” said Bert Mayer of Framingham, president of the Boston Beard Bureau and participant in the freestyle full beard category. “I spent an hour on my beard today.”
There were more people than seats. Many were bearded, many were family members of the bearded, and others just came for the show. To the left of the stage was a beard making station where children, women or beardless men got a chance to participate.
All sorts of beards and people were present at the festival. A guy in a plaid shirt, a ponytail, and glasses sported a simple full beard. Another man in a tight white shirt, classic jeans and tattoos had a beard down to his stomach. To the left was a guy in tan pants, a white collared shirt, slick down hair, a tie, a vest and a curly cue mustache sticking out to the side.
After the socializing ended, the competition was set to begin, split into 5 different categories: free-style partial beard (goatees, sideburns, and others), free-style moustache, natural full beard, free-style full beard and fake beard.
The competition was a lighthearted affair not short on puns and jokes. The category was announced, the bearded came up to the stage and walked across, looking at the crowd to the left and the three judges to the right. They then stood in below until it was their turn to get their spotlight up on stage, where the judges and the host could ask questions.
“Do you have any mustache-related dance moves?” the host asked Sam Treviño, a competitor in the free-style mustache category.
DJ Pace quickly chose a song and within moments, Treviño put his hands on his hips and started moving his feet across the stage. As the crowd cheered he walked down the stairs back in line with a smile on his face and gave a thumbs up to someone in the crowd.
In the make-your-own-beard competition, women and little kids lined the stage with beards made of yarn, paper, patterns and one even made entirely out of buttons.
“It’s a little Beyonce and a little Colonel Sanders,” said Ava Pandiani, who wore a paper leopard print beard in the fake beard category.
The natural full beard category contained the largest number of competitors.
“Is your armpit hair the same color as your beard?” the host asked Kevin Vargas from Rhode Island in the natural full beard competition.
“No, it’s entirely different,” he responded. “It’s black.”
For many, growing a beard has become a way of life. Defending champion for the full beard category, Brian Roy, who has a long grey beard and a red “Beard Season” shirt, walked up on to the stage put his hands in the air.
The 2014 Northeast Regional Beard and Moustache Championships will be on August 2nd.
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