Baubles, bangles and BEARDS

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Special to the Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas Cambridge entrants, Greg Radcliffe and Brandon Hesson show off their brushes.

EASTON — Whose beard is thicker than Blackbeard’s? Which mustache curls in the most appealing way? Which beard wearer strutted his facial hair across the runway with the greatest panache? Was it the pensive professor with his pipe and beard? Was it the guy who stripped off his T-shirt?

It seems simple to take a ruler and measure the length, but the process of judging here is much more complex. Six judges at this beard growers showdown in Easton on Saturday night had the awesome responsibility of judging the new grown beards of the Eastern Shore. The three men and three women rated facial hair growth and presentation and they leapt, and they wiggled, and they pranced, moves you’d never, ever see at a Miss America pageant. Judge Maggie Sarfaty says she looks for density, color, and “ombre,” a term for the subtle shading of tones and colors. The cool judge says it also matters how contestant rocks his stuff.

You could easily identify who the contestants were. Nick Richards says “I mastered the art of eating with a beard,” though it sometime provided him with samples of maple syrup and BBQ sauce long after he had finished his meal. He claims he increased the fiber in his diet. Two Cambridge residents were promising entries. Brandon Hesson, executive director of Cambridge Main Street, (and instrumental in getting Cambridge a crab basket Christmas tree,) showed a characteristic touch of class with his modified Hercule Poirot mustache. Asked whether he looked better with or without facial hair, he laughed as he said, “I am stunningly handsome either way.”

If handsome is as handsome does, Mr. Hesson fits the description well. He rescued two dogs from Baywater Animal Rescue and in gratitude nominated the humane shelter as beneficiary for the raised funds. Mr. Hesson’s wife Renee adds it was a family affair with 5-year-old Elizabeth and 8-year-old Dan encouraging their father as he groomed his facial hair with two specialized waxes. To no avail. Brandon lost to Jon Crow’s version of Fu Man Chu.

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This year’s full beard winner was Henner Neff.

 

The other Cambridge entry, Greg Radcliffe, should have won “Best Dressed,” not for his beard but for his white formal attire that gave him an elegant look that contrasted with his dramatic dark beard. Last year he came in second place, but he insists he was “first loser.” This year’s full beard winner was Henner Neff who laughed as he agreed it was a momentous victory.

About 100 supporters partied at the The Academy Art Museum in Easton, which normally houses Waterfowl activities, but was the scene of the Second Annual “Cover Your Chin for Charity.” The money will be divided among three charities. Camp Possibilities for children with diabetes provides kids a week-long opportunity to forget they have diabetes. The Veterans’ Fund Program at the Mental Health Association in Talbot County is currently working with 50 veterans. The Baywater Animal Rescue, a no-kill shelter for animals in Cambridge, depends on volunteers and privately raised funds. The contestants all say the progression of the beard growth (which starts in October) makes people ask questions and brings attention and contributions to the charities. While job interviews, passport photos and other obligations forced some to give up the effort, the money kept coming.

So how did this “in your face” idea originate?” With three dads talking while their kids played field hockey. Adam Theeke, Andrew Southworth, and Joel Shilliday, all beard enthusiasts, decided to have a competition and do it for good causes. Many local businesses have made substantial contributions, and the event appears to grow along with the beards. The top prize does not go to a beard grower, but to a fundraiser and that was Eric Mulholland. Altogether, more than $14,000 dollars will be divided among the three charities.

Some contestants say they enjoyed the beards and will try to keep them for a while. The others will take up first clippers and then razors for the remaining fuzz. One magnificently bearded man, John Clow, says the heck with the clipper. He’s going to use a chainsaw for the heavy beard he grew.

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Special to the Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas The crowd has fun while three local charities win the benefits.

 

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