Using a flashlight, ruler and occasionally a hearty tug, a team of judges inspected furry faces and plucked winners for the 2017 Beard-A-Reno contest Saturday night at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.
The whisker-growing contest is one of the events leading up to the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, which is June 1-4 at the Elks Rodeo/Unocal Event Center.
Judging typically winds up being a raucous activity, with attendees cheering and ringing cowbells to support their favorites.
Winners walked away with more than bragging rights. Each also received a custom-made silver belt buckle.
Competition came with some pain — and an occasional “ouch” — as judges pulled whiskers with a goal of precisely measuring beards. In other categories, they used flashlights to peer into the facial fur, seeking evidence of dyes, which are banned for beards entered in the contest.
One of the popular categories was ladies’ choice, picked from the field of entrants as well as audience members.
The judges of that category, led by Kristine Mollenkopf, unabashedly solicited incentives.
“I’m just saying we’re completely susceptible to bribes,” she joked to the crowd. “If anybody wants to buy the ladies drinks, we’ve got all kind of ways to make you come home with a buckle.”
“And that’s how you get free drinks at the Elks Beard-A-Reno,” laughed Tony Gonzales, the emcee.
Awards were handed out in 13 categories, including for longest, blackest, whitest and reddest beard, plus best goatee, top mustache, best sideburns, wildest and best western characterization.
Even whisker-challenged men had a chance to win a belt buckle with best attempt selected — after some old-fashioned ribbing from Gonzales.
Another category was for top beard among media members.
Winners of the 2017 Beard-A-Reno were:
» Joe Costa, All-Around Champion.
» Kevin Anaya, Ladies Choice.
» Renee Elwell, Miss Wrangler.
» Bryce Moody, Best Western Characterization.
» Tommy Barrios, Wildest Beard.
» Danny Moreno, Longest Beard.
» Ray Shrubb, Best Goatee.
» Jamie Needham, Best Sideburns.
» Duane Andrade, Best Moustache.
» John Bordier, Whitest Beard.
» Jay Barber, Blackest Beard.
» Josh Carcarey, Reddest Beard .
» Richard Beauregard, Top Media.
The 2017 Elks Rodeo promises to bring wider exposure to the annual event in a couple of different ways, organizers announced earlier this year.
Santa Maria will become a stop on the PRCA Champions Challenge Tour featuring former and current champions competing as teams backed by national sponsors.
The competition will be filmed for a 90-minute show to air a week later on the CBS Sports Network.
The Champions Challenge Tour stops at nine rodeos, including the finals, making the inclusion of Santa Maria’s rodeo more important.
Additionally, the June 3 and 4 performances will be streamed live on wranglernetwork.com, allowing viewers throughout the nation to watch competition in seven different events.
Click here to purchase Elks Rodeo tickets online. Click here for the full schedule of activities and entertainment planned at the rodeo grounds.
In addition to four days of rodeo action, the event will include the annual Elks Rodeo Parade on June 3, with entries traveling on Broadway from Main Street to Enos Drive.
— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.