Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 11:51 pm | Fair 58º


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With Santa Maria Elks Rodeo on Horizon, Judges Whittle Down Winning Whiskers at Beard-A-Reno Dinner

Continuing a 56-year tradition, contestants split hairs for best beard before 72nd annual rodeo rides into town Thursday

Judges move in for closer looks at contestants vying to win the reddest facial hair title at the annual Beard-A-Reno competition, one of many events leading up to the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo from May 28-31. Click to view larger
Judges move in for closer looks at contestants vying to win the reddest facial hair title at the annual Beard-A-Reno competition, one of many events leading up to the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo from May 28-31. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

With whiskers on full display, the best beards and most marvelous mustaches were plucked from a field of contestants Saturday night in Santa Maria.

The 56th Annual Beard-A-Reno starts a busy week leading up to the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, which begins Thursday and runs through May 31.

Approximately 400 people attended Saturday night’s dinner at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge, where awards were given out for winning whiskers in a dozen categories.

“If you didn’t come here to have fun, by God you’re in the wrong place,” exclaimed Keith Barks, a past exalted rule and former rodeo chairman who served as the master of ceremonies for Beard-A-Reno.

The 44 contestants began entering the whisker-grown event in February as they competed for custom-made silver belt buckles.

Categories included longest beard, blackest beard, whitest beard, reddest beard, best goatee, best mustache, best sideburns, best attempt, wildest, best Western characterization, ladies’ choice and best All-Around.

The winner of Miss Wrangler also was named.

“Let’s git ’er done, boys,” Barks said as the judges began their handiwork.

The best beards weren’t picked by eyesight. Armed with flashlights, the judges peered deep into the whiskers to ensure the growers weren’t involved in shenanigans such as using dye.

The rowdy crowd cheered on their favorites, often chanting their contestant number to sway the judges.

The full list of winners were:

» Reddest — Steven Davis 

» Blackest — Michael Gonzales

» Whitest — Jeff Fitzgerald

» Best Goatee — Tyler Maretti 

» Longest — Jaime Needham 

» Wildest — Brian Elwell 

» Best Mustache — Kyle Wilson 

» Best Sideburns — Maxwell Shrubb

» Best Attempt — John Chisum 

» Best Western — Junior Galindo 

» Ladies Choice — Bill Wurth 

» Best All-Around — Mike Sczepanik and Brian Elwell

»  Miss Wrangler — Elaine Twitchell

Saturday night’s event leads up to the 72nd annual rodeo at the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center, east of Highway 101 near Santa Maria Way.


Performances, featuring a full slate of rodeo competition, will start at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. May 31. Gates open two hours before the starting time.

Throughout the rodeo, pro athletes and animals will compete in saddle bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing and bareback riding. On Friday night, the rodeo queen will be crowned, capping a six-week fundraising campaign.

This year’s princesses and their sponsors are Sarai Calderon, Your Orcutt Youth Organization; Taylor Glines, VTC EnterprisesTaelor Janes, Santa Maria Noontimers Lions Club; and Jasmine Rodriguez, Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe.

More than 200 entries will travel south on Broadway from Main Street to Enos Drive, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. Click here for the parade lineup.

Also Saturday, Cowboys Kickin’ Cancer will raise money for Mission Hope Cancer Center.

Rodeo tickets can be purchased at a discounted price through Wednesday from the Albertsons stores in Santa Maria, Orcutt and Buellton; Boot Barn in Santa Maria; and Carr’s Boots in Santa Maria. Click here to purchase tickets online.

Active-duty military members and their families (limit four tickets) will be admitted for free with a current identification card.

For more information, call the Elks Rodeo Office at 805.925.4125.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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