Photos: The First Ever Boston Beard-Off
Male grooming, particularly the intricacies of facial hair upkeep, are often overlooked. Saturday night, however, the beards of Boston were celebrated when The Beard-Off, a championship of beards across America, rolled into town.
In 2010, Art Allen was growing weary working for a nonprofit when he had an idea: a beard competition. Why? It’s simple: for the love (and appreciation) of a darn good beard. Allen ran with it and rented out a bar in Minneapolis for the one-night-only competition. To his surprise, more than 300 people showed up.
Three years later, The Beard-Off event in Minneapolis has continued to multiply in size and creativity. Then he decided to bring the event to Boston.
The Boston Beard-Off on Saturday night at Fenway’s Who’s On First was impressive as competitors raised their beers in celebration of one another’s facial hair. Put together by Allen and his team and hosted by Minnesota-based comedian Mike Fotis, the night was divided into five categories: Mustache, Partial Beard, Full Beard, Freestyle, and the crowning of the Boston Beardsman.
As the night unfolded, it became clear that high facial hair art wasn’t the only thing the contestants were bringing to the table. Fredrickson, a strong competitor in the Mustache category who christened his mustache Rufus, brought along a monkey hand puppet to share the stage. Eugene, an audience favorite in the Partial Beard category, came dressed in a sharp suit jacket, a monocle, and an infectious smile. Mason, a Freestyle contestant, named his beard “The Thigh Tickler.”
A handful of members of the Boston Beard Bureau attended the competition, including Bert Mayer, the founder of the city’s local bearding team. “You know how in college, you drink? Well, I graduated. Then my friends moved away. Now I drink with my beard friends,” explained Mayer.
Jeremy Day, another member of the Bureau, agreed. “We’ve gone to a bunch of competitions together, but the idea of bearding isn’t necessarily competing. A lot of it is getting together with people you like and being in a type of brotherhood.”
Day, who’s been growing out his beard since he was 18, has alternated between mustaches and goatees for the past seven years, finally making a commitment to grow out a beard after he hiked the Appalachian Trail last year. “My favorite thing about having a beard is options,” he explained. “It certainly does make people remember you, and it’s great to see people trying not to stare. It’s cool!” he said. Though he didn’t place in the Freestyle category, Day’s beard was in excellent form on Saturday night. Two hours of preparation with a hair dryer, strong hairspray, and wax will do that for a fella.
After about two hours of laughs and friendly competition, the winners of the night, who were scored by three judges on bases of creativity and panache, were chosen. Audience members crowned Boston Beard Bureau member Brian Roy as the overall winner and the first official Beardsman of Boston.
Who will take the medal next year? Mustache wax at the ready, ladies and gentlemen. Until then, check out the bearded looks from Saturday’s event: