Bushy to well-groomed. Short to long. Like snowflakes, no two beards in Lawrence's Sesquicentennial Beard Contest were quite the same.
Twelve men entered the competition Saturday afternoon by the gazebo in South Park. People weren't required to register, so anyone could walk up and join in -- so long as they had a beard.
Contest judges scrutinized and felt the beards. And while the competition seemed tough, selecting a winner wasn't the hardest part, said judge Tony Peterson.
"Considering that we made up the categories on the spot, the most difficult thing was to decide what the categories were going to be," he said.
The judges came up with five:
- Best beard to dip in coffee.
- Best mix of styles.
- Most gray overall beard.
- Best attempt at a beard.
- Best of show.
Winners received prizes, such as free movie rentals and gift certificates for massages, but their names weren't taken for the official record. In fact, the categories the judges came up with were written down on a cardboard box.
Beard contestant Benjamin Seferovich said he appreciated the strange, but creative, categories. He said he was just happy there was a beard contest.
"And there were some really cool-looking beards here," he said.
People in the audience seemed to favor Kerry Altenbernd's beard. He went home with the prize for grayest beard. He said he didn't really notice what color his beard was unless he looked in a mirror.
Altenbernd said he'd had a beard for 30 years. He used to trim it, but now he just lets it grow.
"I hoped there would be more (people participating)," Altenbernd said. "Lawrence has a lot of people with beards, so I thought maybe they'd be down here."
Kendall Simmons, beard contest organizer, agreed and said she was disappointed no women or children participated in the event.
Overall, she said she thought the competition went well.
"It was very much like the Athens Olympics. And I kept expecting the crowd to really get into it more with booing and hissing for changing scores, but they didn't," she said. "I guess maybe because we're nicer in the Midwest than in Greece. I don't know."