The World Beard and Moustache Championships
November 2003

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01-2150-0093 Carson City, NV: More than 130 men with facial hair of all styles came from as many as 10 different countries to Carson City, Nevada, to parade down a catwalk in the sixth World Beard and Moustache Championships. This was the first time the 13-year-old contest had been held outside of Europe. It was launched in Hofen/Enz, Germany, in 1990. Previous championships have been held in Norway, Sweden, Italy and Germany. The World Beard and Moustache Championships is a biennial event supported by beard and moustache clubs in at least nine countries

The event was dominated by a 56-strong contingent of Germans but Americans made a stronger showing than expected, capturing four of the 17 category championships. Those categories included for moustaches: Dali, Handlebar, Musketeer, English, Wild West, Fu Manchu and Imperial while the beards feature the look of Garibaldi and Verdi. Natural and Freestyle categories exist for both but with certain ”styling aids” and rules to guide the use of moustache wax, hair spray, hair crème, styling foam, hair gel, and the like.

Before the event, the contestants marched past 40,000 spectators at the annual Nevada Day parade.

Many competitors arose before dawn to begin shaving, preening, waxing and blow-drying their beards into competitive shape. Jurg Biland of Switzerland spent nearly two hours preparing his waxed moustache, which stretched 1.45 meters (five feet, nine inches) from tip to tip, making it nearly impossible to walk through a crowd. Contestants also donned authentic period costumes to match the styles they chose. Reinhard Burcker of Tubingen, Germany, wore a blue 17th century swordsman's costume, with a long cutlass at his side, to go with his long, thin musketeer moustache and narrow goatee. To match with his "English-style" moustache, spanning some 40 centimeters (16 inches), Berlin native Lutz Giese wore an 18th century uniform of the British admiralty. To match his golden Van Dyke, American Gary Johnson wore a cowboy for a legendary Wild Bill Hickock look.

Although featuring a generous amount of beer-drinking and a rousting polka band, the competition was serious and tightly fought. The competitors were judged by a panel of judges that included Miss Nevada 2003, Christina O'Neil. The audience cheered and sighed in awe as contestants paraded on the catwalk. Overwhelming crowd favorite Alf Jarrald, at 82 the oldest competitor, took first-runner-up honors in the grand champion race.

The best-whiskered winners garnered trophies but no financial reward. Sporting a thick, long brown beard and a bearskin hat, Dave Traver of Anchorage, Alaska won the first prize in the full natural beard class. He was also second runner-up in the overall grand championship. "I'm ecstatic," said Traver, a veterans administration official who was named "Mr. Fur Face" in an Alaska state-wide beard competition in 2000.

In a silver-gray morning suit and top hat to highlight his whiskers, Berlin native Karl Heinz Hille gained the coveted title of World Champion. "I feel as happy as a pig in mud," said Hille, who also won the category for Imperial-shaped whiskers.

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