A judge for the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Beard-A-Reno contest checks the whiskers of Josh Carcarey, 21, the eventual winner of the reddest beard category Saturday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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Some guys golf, but John Hall’s sport of choice is growing whiskers, something he has done many times as a contestant in the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Beard-A-Reno.

Winners of the 57th annual whisker-growing contest, leading up to the Elks Rodeo, were picked from the entrants on Saturday night during a raucous event at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.

The event included 15 categories, everything from reddest, blackest and whitest to wildest, best goatee and ladies choice. Even men unable to grow bushy beards weren’t left out due to the best attempt award.

Hall won title of whitest beard as he marked 21 years of competition.

“It’s just a thing I like to do,” Hall said. “It’s a sport.”

Clean-shaven contestants for the beard-growing event began signing up in February for the friendly competition.

Judges, wearing vests touting rodeo sponsor Wrangler, carefully considered contestants, using flashlights, rulers and even fingertips to evaluate the facial hair.

Ladies Choice judges assured contestants that bribes of cocktails would be welcomed and accepted.

Contestants’ supporters shouted their names or entry numbers as others rattled cowbells.

Beard-A-Reno winners went home with custom-made silver belt buckles and bragging rights.

Other early winners were Joey Orozco of Coarsegold, for the Blackest Beard Award, Joey Silva of Santa Maria for Best Goatee Award and John Bordier of Orcutt for the Longest Beard Award.

Additionally, the night included naming Miss Wrangler and handing out an award for top table decoration.

The Santa Maria Elks Rodeo kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday at the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center. The Elks Rodeo Parade will travel south on Broadway, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, with Beard-A-Reno contestants making up one entry.

Click here to purchase Santa Maria Elks Rodeo tickets online.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.