Beards of glory

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Student Union and Commuter Student Services’ fourth annual Beard and ‘Stache Competition, part of Winterfest, ran last Tuesday, Feb. 25, for a hairy and grizzly competition of facial hair.

Men and women alike from around town and UAA competed for Moose’s Tooth gift cards and tickets to the Alaska’s Miners and Trappers Ball in various beard categories including: mustache, partial beard, baby beard, ladies and fake beard, freestyle beard and grizzly beard. Award winning bearded men and one of their hairstylists judged the various categories.

Galen Pazar, a computer tech in Anchorage, won the mustache category. David Dehoog, finance and investing business major, won for partial beards. In the baby beard category John Lewis, UAA alumnus of the aviation and air traffic control program, took first. For the ladies and fake beard category Canadian studies major Melody Kalkowski won. Bryan Box, biological sciences major, won in the freestyle section of the competition. Bob Nelson won the notorious grizzly category.

The winners of each category then competed against one another for the audience’s vote for third, second and first place in the overall beard competition.

In third place Bryan Box, the freestyle beard winner, won over the audience with his bird beard that he named, “eagle bones falcon hawk.” His beard was tied up and inserted with feathers to have the appearance of a turkey.

“My beard and I were sitting around the fire and decided the only way to get closer to the bird was to look like one,” said Box as to why he styled his beard to look like a turkey.

Ladies beard winner Melody Kalkowski, or “Yukon Yawn” as she dubbed herself, won second place. Kalkowski won with her expertly crafted fake beard named “Destruction Bay” and her convincing Yukon costume and personality.

On stage she was asked what was the craziest thing she has ever found in her beard. She replied that she found a sled dog in it.

“I once wondered where my lead dog was, and there he was,” said Kalkowski.

She said she was inspired to compete in the Beard and ‘Stache competition because of “beard envy and theater class.”

“I got curious about men playing women, so I did research on women playing men and learned how to do fake beards and thought I would try it out,” said Kalkowski.

In first place, the grizzly beard winner, Bob Nelson, or as the emcees mistakenly called him, Eric, got the ultimate audience approval of his beard.

“The worst part is comparisons to Duck Dynasty,” said Nelson.

Nearly all the competitors were just as spunky and funny as the overall winners and all, but a few were clad with some pretty impressive facial hair.

Electrical engineering major Lance Leber, a competitor in the grizzly beard portion of the night, said on stage, “A man who would shave his beard for a woman deserves neither.”

John Lewis, winner of the baby beard category and UAA alumnus, while doing his catwalk to show off his beard paused on the end of the stage to take a selfie with the crowd behind him. He repeated taking a selfie with the crowd after winning, and he took another with all the competitors of the Beard and ‘Stache Competition.

During the competition his daughter, Cedar Lewis, ran on stage to see him.

Each competitor throughout the event was asked if they had a name for their beard and baby beard competitor Aaron Vickery, who placed second in the category, said that he is called “Uncle Beard” by his two daughters, niece and nephew, who were all in attendance at the event.

Vickery said he was inspired to grow his beard because of “having to shave everyday in the military.”

Others were just inspired to grow beards by those in the military in the days of old, especially the chops famous in the Civil War.

“It’s just something I always thought looked really cool. The civil war generals had it and I thought, ‘Let’s try it out and see what it looks like,’” said David Dehoog, who won in the partial beard category for his mean chops.