Aug. 29 2012 12:00 AM

Local facial hair enthusiasts take it on the chin in weekend competition


Whether you’re sporting a daring Donegal, manly muttons or rocking a royale, fame, glory and prizes could be yours this Saturday when “beardos” from across the nation will their facial hair against each other. It’s all part of the first Great Lakes Regional Beard and Moustache Championship, a growing new concept in competition.   “We love the camaraderie behind facial hair,” said John Buckler, organizer of the competition and president of the Great American Fierce Beard Organization. 

“We’re a bunch of facial hair enthusiasts that use our beards and mustaches as a vehicle for making Lansing a better place.”  GAFBO has been making the world hairier since 2002, when it was born from a “drunken college bet” between Buckler and several friends. Since then, it has “literally and metaphorically grown into the charity group it is now.” 

Proceeds from ticket and raffle sales at this regional championship will be donated to Haven House, a Lansing-based organization that provides emergency shelter and support to families in need, and to the Lansing Cultural Exchange program, which seeks funding to help send middle school student leaders to Otsu, Japan.  

“We try to support local charities, something that we can dedicate more of our resources to,” Buckler said. “It’s a lot more personal than just donating money to a national charity. Plus it gives our mothers a chance to not hate our beards.”  

The Great Lakes Regional Beard and Moustache Championship invites facial hair enthusiasts to see if their face forests can survive the scrutiny of a panel of experts in front of a live audience as it is judged on “fierceness,” an intentionally vague term meant to spark imagination and creativity.  

Categories include natural mustache, business beard, styled goatee and sideburns/muttonchops. There will also be a novelty group called the “Michigan Miletus,” named after Miletus Callahan-Barile, a Texas celebrity in the facial hair circuit who will help judge.We already know the follicles must be fierce, but what other characteristics separate the Groucho Marxes and the Abraham Lincolns from the sissy patchy peach fuzzies?  

“I’ll be looking for awesomeness definitely, and how the beard fits the personality of the person,” said Callahan-Barile. With experience starring on the reality television show “Whisker Wars,” he has learned a thing or two about what it takes to boast a bold beard.   

“Of course everyone goes for big beards, but sometimes there’s more to it than bigness,” he said.  “I’ll be looking for an internal beard — the beard that is the soul of that person.”  

The fiercest beard or most magnificent mustache isn’t always found on the face of a gentleman. Despite the obvious gender expectations, ladies too are encouraged to compete in the festivities. Three categories will allow the use of artificial facial hair, including two woman-only sections.  

“The biggest thing girls should do is to just let loose, go nuts and make a beard,” said Tess Jeffries, a champion competitor from Ohio coming to the event. This bearded woman is far from the sideshow freaks found at cheap carnivals. She has placed in seven beard and mustache championships in the creative category, which challenges women to craft wacky, wild beards from all types of materials. Her first entry was a Poseidon beard and mustache, complete with fake bubbles and fish. She has also been seen sporting a Batman-themed Gotham city beard, proving that “anything and everything can be turned into a beard.”  

“People are coming in from all over the country, including Texas, Virginia, and California,” Buckler said. “It’s going to be really wild great time. If you’ve never seen a beard and mustache competition, you’ll have a lot of fun.” 

The Great Lakes Regional Beard and Moustache Championship
Sept. 1 6:30 -11 p.m.
The Loft, 414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing
$10 per ticket, entry into competitions is FREE