Beards for the Bicentennial

Stroking their whiskers at the conclusion of Westlake’s beard-growing contest are, from left: Reid Wilder, Paul Quinn, Rick Grane, Mel Maurer, Russ Ezolt, Paul Gresbach, Andrew Mangels, Mayor Dennis Clough and Will Krause.

Westlake’s beard-growing contest came to razor-sharp end on Nov. 9 at City Hall. Ten contestants had been growing their facial hair for three months, in a light-hearted competition in honor of the Bicentennial. Mayor Dennis Clough, who also participated in a similar contest during the city’s 175th anniversary in 1986, proposed the idea and recruited some of the participants. The initial field of 20 was halved by the contest’s end as some contestants – or possibly their wives – began to bristle at the idea.

At the judging ceremony, each contestant was given a chance to persuade the all-female panel of judges to vote for them in one of five beard categories: best, worst, most innovative, longest and best use of color. Each beard was unique, varying in length, shape and color (some natural, some dyed). There was a good dose of bragging, some reminiscing of beards past and a bit of blatant groveling.

After much deliberation in council chambers, the judges returned with their winners. Each category featured a first-place winner, who received a $25 gift card to Brio, and a runner-up, receiving a $15 Starbucks gift card.

An exact measurement was taken by the judges for the longest beard category. Andrew Mangels beat Paul Quinn by a whisker, 1.75 inches to 1.5 inches.

The two most innovative beards belonged to Reid Wilder, who dyed his goatee green and shaped it into a “W” for Westlake, and Will Krause, a longtime beard-wearer who disclosed that his children used to love when he would “wash their feet” with his soft beard.

Best use of color went to Rick Grane, who dyed the dates “1811-2011” into his facial hair, and Paul Gresbach, who let the natural color of his beard stand out.

Mel Maurer’s beard, an homage to Leonard Porter, took first place in the worst beard category. Wearing period attire from Porter’s era, he may have won best-dressed, had it been offered. Joel Tomkalski was runner-up in the category.

The competition’s best beard prize went to Russ Ezolt, with Mayor Clough taking second place.

All in all, the contest was a fun way to show a bit of community spirit during the city’s celebratory year. Most of the participants admitted plans to shave their beards later in the evening – some more reluctantly than others.

Read More on Westlake Bicentennial
Volume 3, Issue 23, Posted 9:41 PM, 11.09.2011