More than 200 men and women will take the stage at the Canal Club to show off their beards as the RVA Beard League hosts the 2nd Annual Mid-Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championships.
The RVA Beard League, formerly known as the Follicles of the James ‘Stache and Beard League, is a collection of men who have grown out their beards, mustaches and sideburns, and women who have made their own beards out of natural or hilariously fake materials. They then compete with their beards across the country, even going as far away as Las Vegas for a recent competition.
The 2nd Annual Mid-Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championships will be held on April 27 to benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Richmond.
The Richmond City Council also recently named April as Richmond Facial Hair Appreciation Month. The council recognized the RVA Beard League for their beard growing abilities.
Stephen Brown, who sports a waxed mustache, is a VCU alumnus and the RVA Beard League vice president. Brown will also host the championships
“The first competition I went to, I went as a photographer. I didn’t even go to compete, but I just saw what it was all about and then wanted to try it so I tried to grow a mustache,” Brown said. “I had never had facial hair before, so I just started growing and competing since then.”
Brown competes in the styled mustache category. For national competitions, the categories are narrowed down even further, so Brown competes in the Dali mustache category. This year at the 2nd Annual Mid-Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championships, two new categories have been added, sideburns and full beard under an inch, which Brown thinks will encourage those who are new to growing to their beards out to compete.
“A lot of people say that they can’t grow a beard or they can’t grow anything. You have to get past that six-month mark and see where you are at,” Brown said. “You can’t say ‘I’m just going to trim it once.’ You have to just let it keep growing and see what your face will let you do.”
The 2nd Annual Mid-Atlantic ‘Stache and Beard League Championships will be judged by local legends, including the drummer for the band Lamb of God, Chris Adler. The judges will decide the winner in each category based on who they think has the better beard. They will also decide the “Best in Show” award from the category winners, which include full beards, mustaches, partial beards and fake beards.
VCU alumnus and RVA Beard League treasurer Travis Oliver, whose beard reaches about halfway down his chest, sees the competition as something fun to do with his free time. After being laid off from his job four years ago, Oliver decided to start growing out his beard.
“I had never grown a beard, so I just wanted to see what would happen. I just started growing it and I’ve only shaved it a couple times since then,” Oliver said. “The competition thing you just kind of find out about when you start growing a beard. People tell you, ‘hey, we’re having a competition; you should come.’ It sounded like a fun thing to do.”
At last year’s Mid-Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championships, more than 90 people competed but more than 200 people were turned away from the competition location, Strange Matter. This year, Brown estimates that there will be more than 200 people competing and more than 500 people at the Canal Club to watch the men and women show off their facial hair.
David Roberts, a VCU alum and RVA Beard league member, was sporting his beard in a styled perfect circle Friday afternoon at the 2nd Annual Community Bazaar, which was the first time he had ever tried such a feat. Roberts grew his beard as a bet two years ago, but then shaved it for the movie “Lincoln.” After meeting the other members of the RVA Beard League, Roberts decided to grow his again and compete as a hobby.
“It’s not too hard, although styling it is a little bit of a challenge,” Roberts said. “It’s a nice way to go to a different place you’ve never been to. You kind of build friendships across the state. It’s always fun looking at everyone else’s styles of beard.”