By Kevin Kelley
It turns out there’s a good reason most men don’t grow beards these days. Keeping them trimmed and clean can be problematic, and family members often don’t like them.
Of the 10 contestants in Westlake’s bicentennial beard growing contest, half said they intended to shave their facial hair off once the judging was completed.
Mayor Dennis Clough, who was runner up in the best beard contest, said he was taking his wife, Virginia, out to dinner following the judging to thank her for putting up with his beard for several months.
“I’ll be glad when it comes off,” the mayor’s wife said. But she added that he received a lot of compliments about the beard.
Prashant Shah, the city’s finance director and emcee of the judging session held Nov. 9 at Westlake City Hall, joked that contestants’ family members were “impatiently waiting with razors.”
Russ Ezolt, an attorney and member of the city’s Youth Commission, was one of the exceptions in wanting to return to a clean-shaven face.
“Since the ladies like it, it’s staying,” he told judges, adding that he would never have grown a beard if not for the contest. Ezolt won the best beard category.
Westlake Porter Public Library Director Andrew Mangels, who won the longest beard contest, attributed its growth to consumption of junk food.
“You can see that it is full and lush,” he bragged to judges. “A variety of colors, I might add.”
Mangels later told West Life that growing the beard was worth it because of all the conversations and awareness about the city’s bicentennial his beard sparked.
Paul Quinn, the city’s service director, admitted to judges that he dyed his beard. Although he’s worn a beard for much of the last decade, Quinn grew it longer. His dad called him “Fidel,” but he looked more like San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Brain Wilson, who is known for his thick, black beard.
Quinn said he didn’t have to deal with family members objecting to the beard like some of his fellow contestants did.
“Being single, I probably didn’t have it as bad as they did,” Quinn said.
Will Krause, the city’s assistant director of planning, said he was aiming for a distinguished look. But Krause, who said he’s had a beard much of his adult life, grossed out judges when he told them that he used to wash his children’s feet with his beard.
The winners in each category received a $25 gift card for Brio Restaurant at Crocker Park. The runners up received as $15 gift card for Starbucks.
The all-female panel of judges consisted of Lisa Cruse, Martha Campbell, Sylvia Scherma, Tracy Heberle, Marian Zietz and Karen Wolf.
Shah launched the judging program by showing the music video “If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard You’ve Got Two Mums” by the Australian folk band The Beards. Showing the video was the idea of Shah’s 15-year-old son, he said.
Bicentennial Beard Growing Contest Results
Category Winner Runner Up
Best Russ Ezolt Dennis Clough
Most Innovative Reid Wilder Will Krause
Longest Andrew Mangels Paul Quinn
Use of Color Rick Grane Paul Gresbach
Worst Mel Maurer Joel Tomkalski