Best of beards at Warren County Fair
Competitors for the beard and mustache contest lined up on stage at the Warren County Fair’s Wonder Building Thursday evening to show off their whiskers and win prizes.
Their experience ranged from beard contest veterans to fresh recruits plucked right off the midway. Fair volunteer Julie Cisler led a panel of three judges and divided the competition up into three categories: beard length, neatness, fullest mustache and a best overall category.
Third place overall winner Roger Saucier came to the fair contest with two first place wins at the ChristKindlMarkt Front Royal competitions under his belt. At over a foot long, he’d been growing his white ZZ Top-inspired beard out for three years, which won him first in length, fourth in neatness and third in fullest mustache.
Greg Powell, also from Front Royal, took home the overall second place prize for his razor-sharp trimmed handlebar or fu manchu mustache. He was disappointed while competing in the largely beardless competition last year, but took home the first place ribbon in neatness and third place ribbon in fullest mustache this year.
“There were a few mustaches [last year], probably three or four, but I was kind of hoping there’d be more to even out the playing field,” he said.
First place overall winner Dubby White, of Front Royal, said he had only been growing his beard out for two weeks last year when he watched the contest. A year later, measuring in at over 5 inches, his thick and well-groomed facial hair earned him second place in length, second in neatness and first in fullest mustache.
For Saucier, who’s traveled to see contests in other states, the number of men in the area who take pride in grooming their goatees is pretty disappointing.
“In West Virginia, everywhere I go there are men with beards,” he said. “But around here you hardly ever see any men with beards. That’s why I feel like I’m at home when I’m in West Virginia.”
The abundance of clean-shaven faces could also be a sign of the times. Powell entered a competition in the 1980s with a curled mustache that he said was all the rage, and White showed around a photo of his face fuzz in the ’90s – when his multi-shaded gray beard was still brown.
Plenty of guys with some bristle or beards in progress hung back in the audience just to watch. Volunteer judge Jeannie Tharpe said she was disappointed to see a number of fairgoers with distinguished beards and mustaches decline to enter the contest this year.
“The guys working the booth wouldn’t come up. Shame on them,” she laughed. “They don’t know how fun we are.”
Each contestant took a handful of ribbons away with them to parade around the fair for fun and bragging rights.
Cisler said that for next year’s competition, they’ll include additional categories: time taken to grow the facial hair, furthest distance traveled to the fair and the most colorful set of whiskers.
“I think it was fun, and I think if we had more categories that’d make it good too,” she said.
Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org