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Beards, booze, and bacon make their way to Casper for a facial hair championship and food festival

A group of bearded men gather around a banner proclaiming "New Guinness World Record! Longest Beard Chain Casper, WY - Nov. 11, 2022"
Cory Stovall
These participants set a new world record for the world's longest beard chain. Approximately 70 people took part with their beards clipped together. The record they set is just shy of 151 feet and about 90 feet longer than the previous record.

The Ford Wyoming Center in Casper hosted the 2022 Honest Amish National Beard and Moustache Championships, an event that celebrates facial hair, on Nov. 12. They combined it with Casper's annual Booze and Bacon Festival, and the combination attracted hundreds of attendees.

For Casper resident Cory Stovall, who has a beard that's the better part of a foot long, it was a chance to show it off and have some fun with his facial hair.

"I had one of the ladies who works up there at the Ford Wyoming Center approach me in an establishment and was like, 'Hey, did you hear that they're having a beard competition in Casper?' And I was like, 'Oh, no, that's cool.' You know, [I] didn't really think much about it but also at the same time was like, 'Well, I should probably do that,'" he explained.

Two bearded men stand next to each other.
Cory Stovall
Casper resident Cory Stovall (right) participated in breaking the world record for the longest beard chain at The Gaslight Social on the evening of Nov. 11. The next day, he would take home a first place ribbon in the 6 to 12-inch natural beard category. This has inspired him to create a local facial hair club.

Stovall hasn't shaved since 2015 and never really thought of his beard as something special. But nervousness set in as he competed in the six to 12-inch natural beard category, which prohibited any styling aids such as mousse or gel. To his surprise, he took first place in the category.

"As far as the beard competition goes, we're going to continue to grow this hairy mess on my face, and hopefully show it off to more people as well," he said.

Though Stovall's first place wasn't necessarily something he expected, it inspired him to start a local facial hair club.

"Every single person that I've talked to is all on board," he said. "Some people have seen my Facebook posts and other friends of mine that have shared the post have contacted me and said, 'Hey man, we'd really love to be part of this Facebook group club.'"

The club would bring together like-minded people, raise money for charity, and get people involved with future facial hair competitions.

Stovall also participated in helping to set a new world record for the longest beard chain at just shy of 151 feet. Approximately 70 participants took part at The Gaslight Social the evening before the competition.

Adam Causgrove, chief executive of the American Mustache Institute traveled from Pittsburgh, to emcee the event.

"Well, the beard and mustache community, it's pretty unique," he said. "You don't see this too often. It's very inclusive. And as part of that, you know, we want to bring as many people into the fold as we can."

The event has been held in a different location every year since its inception in 2010 except for 2020, which was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A man with a beard and mustache and a suit jacket.
Hugh Cook
Wyoming Public Media
Adam Causgrove, chief executive of the American Mustache Institute and emcee of the 2022 Honest Amish National Beard and Moustache Championships.

"We're able to get to places like Casper, we've been in Scranton, Pennsylvania, just outside of Chicago, Illinois. And those are the kinds of things that open up this whole community to people that might not be able to go coast to coast, we try to keep it as much in the middle as we can," Causgrove said.

And while locals participated in this year's event, others traveled far and wide to make it the Oil City. Such was the case with Al Underwood of Los Angeles, California, who dressed up like Mr. Monopoly - top hat, suit, and curved mustache included. He said he didn't initially know about beard competitions, but after being told there was one in his neighborhood, he was hooked.

"In 2011 I grew a small beard, but in 2012 is when I really started doing the Musketeers style mustache," he explained. "So, this is my 10th anniversary and I'm wearing today what I wore for my very first big competition."

The competition technically only judges facial hair but Underwood says dressing up can really help with the showmanship aspect of it. Many competitors were seen in various get ups to complement their facial hair.

Underwood's mustache requires a lot of planning and products to get it to stay upright and pointy for so long, though he didn't want to reveal all of his secrets for it.

"Well, we'll just say it's a lot of hairspray and a lot of frustration," he said.

Underwood's friend Eddie Kimmerling of Long Island, New York is dressed in a black derby hat and colorful orange vest. His mustache may be small compared to Underwood's, but his beard goes straight down to his chest.

He's a bit more willing to share his facial hair care routine, which includes using Canadian Redneck mustache wax in addition to what his body provides naturally. But it can take a while to get everything just so.

"I got my system with my mustache," he said. "It actually takes me three days. I started this mustache on Thursday morning. I find showering and restyling and a few days build up a volume of wax and a better hold. The beard I'm able to do in 10-15 minutes in the morning."

His facial hair has even gotten him the chance to perform in a skit for Comedy Central. But both Underwood and Kimmerling stress that their involvement in facial hair competitions is more about having fun, helping charities, and developing a sense of camaraderie than anything else.

When the beard and mustache contestants weren't participating in competitions, they mingled with local booze and food vendors, like Ten Sleep Brewing. Amy Truman of the brewing company says because of their small size, their presence at events is often limited.

"For us to be able to come out to these events, it's very limited," she said. "So we have to be really choosy and try to switch it around a little bit each year to be able to go out and support each one of those types of events, but this one's definitely unique compared to anything we've done before."

Truman added that combining the different events introduced them to new people and was a positive experience.

"The beard element is hysterical and it's fun and it has brought out a whole bunch of different people that I know from throughout the state that I was really surprised to actually see at this event," she said. "So I love that it's the bacon, beards and booze, and I'd love to be back here again because it is really fun."

A percentage of the ticket sales for the event were donated to Project Kenny and the Unaccompanied Students Initiative, a Laramie County and Natrona County-based charity.

The Booze and Bacon Festival, an annual Casper event, is set to return next year. The beard and mustache championship's host city for next year hasn't yet been announced.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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