Ready to win—by a whisker: Dave Traver and Bob Gengler.
Length alone does not make championship facial hair. A blue-ribbon beard has fullness, gravitas, and character.
More important, it also comes attached to a true showman—someone like David Traver, who's on deck in the 2009 World Beard and Moustache Championships in Anchorage, May 19–24. Six years ago in Carson City, Nev., Traver placed first in the contest's natural beard division.
In competition, the Alaskan enhances his mountain man looks with musk ox pants, mukluks, and a hat that's almost as luxuriant as the hair on his chin. This year, with the homefield advantage, he's trying the freestyle division, in which facial hair is brushed and braided into bizarre shapes. The contest is serious but friendly—"Everyone puts on a good face," Traver says—and all proceeds go to charity. (530) 581-3940, www.beardchampionships.com.
Photography by Fran Durner
This article was first published in March 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.