By Joshua Wood, Cowboy State Daily
Things are going to get a little hairy in Casper this fall.
On November 12, Casper will be beset by beard growing professionals and amateurs from throughout the nation. That’s when the Ford Wyoming Center hosts the 2022 National Beard and Moustache Championships.
Luke Gilliam, business development manager for Visit Casper, said the organizers of the championships are excited to come to Wyoming for the first time.
“We’re really hopeful this means anywhere from 500 to 2,000 visitors to see and experience something that has never been in our community before,” said Gilliam.
Past championships have had up to 300 entries, said Bryan Nelson, creative director for Beard Team USA which organizes the championships. He told Cowboy State Daily they are prepared to take up to 900 entries, if more people show up.
Small Cities, Big Impact
Beard Team USA will be working with both the Ford Wyoming Center and Visit Casper for the event. It will be held in conjunction with the 2022 Booze and Bacon Festival.
This will be the first time the competition has been held in Wyoming. Previous locations include Las Vegas, Nevada, Nashville, Tennessee and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Nelson, creative director for Beard Team USA said the organization prefers smaller cities for its events.
“We like smaller cities so we can make more of an impact, visually and also we have a charitable aspect to our event,” said Nelson. “We donate a percentage of the ticket sales to local charities, so we can make a bigger impact.”
While a specific charity has not yet been selected, Nelson said the charity would be local.
Though it is technically a competition, Nelson said there is little competition. Instead, it’s an opportunity for people who grow beards to get together once a year.
“The best part about the event is so many people coming together. No politics matter, no partisan divide,” said Nelson. “It’s just celebrating facial hair and giving back to the community and just having fun.”
There are four main categories for the National Beard and Moustache Championships.
Those categories are moustaches, partial beards, full beards and craft beards.
Subcategories in moustaches include natural moustache, styled, handlebar moustache, groomed moustache, english moustache and freestyle moustache.
Two outlandish subcategories include the Dali Moustache and the Uber-Stache, the latter is a new category added in 2021.
“A lot of people argue that it’s technically a partial beard because enough of the facial hair comes from the cheek,” said Nelson of the Uber-Stache. “It’s a giant mustache and it’s something everyone would recognise as a mustache, whether they know about the technicalities of partial beards versus mustache.”
Because people who bore the uber-stache didn’t feel right going into the partial-beard category, the uber-stache subcategory was created.
The partial beard category includes subcategories such as natural goatees, natural sideburns, the Fu Manchu, the whaler and the Shenandoah.
The full beard category has several subcategories for groomed beards and natural beards ranging from less than three inches in length to greater than 24 inches in length. There is also a subcategory for full beards with styled moustaches.
The fourth main category is craft beards. Nelson said this category allows those who typically can’t grow facial hair to compete and be creative.
“There are several Americans out there that don’t normally grow facial hair. So, we have a craft category so people can create their own facial hair and compete with it. It gets super crazy and it is really creative,” said Nelson. “It’s mainly women who are entering this category but sometimes men are entering the category, too.”
Two subcategories encourage the use of one’s own hair to create either a moustache or a beard. Women—or men—with long hair can use their hair to get creative. The other subcategories don’t specify what material can or cannot be used, just that the faux facial hair must stay attached without the aid of the competitors hands.
Everything from pieces of trees to live animals have been used in the craft beard category, said Nelson. He expects, with the inclusion of the Booze and Bacon Festival, to have more bacon beards than normal this year.
“There’s one or two times where women were showing up with uncooked bacon, which was a little unsettling,” said Nelson.
Nelson told the Cowboy State Daily the championships aren’t open to just professional facial hair growers, but to anyone who wants to compete. He said chances are, someone local could find themselves the new champion of a category.
“People who are unsure, if they wanted to walk in and nab something, they could pick something a little outside the norm with facial hair,” said Nelson. “Tons of guys out there can just grow a beard, a great full beard in two weeks. So, they can do that and then shave it down to some unconventional shape and become the national champion.”
Jon Puls, president of the Frontier Facial Hair Club, has some tips for those who are new to maintaining facial hair.
“I’ve found it’s different for everyone, just like a lot of things. Certain people like certain oils, a lot of people don’t like certain scents,” said Puls. “I take a multivitamin and I do a lot of different things to take care of my beard with beard balms and stuff like that.”
He doesn’t suggest buying beard products from the local WalMart, but that people do their research. One product he suggests is True Grit.
Puls also says, if someone is going to grow a beard or moustache, don’t be afraid to be different.
Don’t hesitate to be who you are when you’re growing it, don’t let people give you crap about it. Be who you want to be with it. There’s guys out there that just like the moustaches or just like the goatees,” said Puls. “Be you.”
Gilliam said Visit Casper hopes the National Beard and Moustache Championships will be a benefit to Casper and Natrona County.
“We are on the lookout for all events that can bring excitement and visitors to our community. Our goal and our mission is to expand the economic base in Natrona County through tourism, so that’s what we’re trying to do with this event,” said Gilliam.
“This event has been successful in big cities and small cities alike, so the opportunity to host them in our community and see what Wyoming can do to make this event special is something we’re really excited about.”