Rebecca Adams’ beard keeps poking her brother in the eye.

The 13-year-old sits perched on top of one of the barstools
inside the dimness of the Limelight night club in downtown Greensboro on a
recent Saturday night, and the grass tendrils in her beard keep making their
way into her brother Riley’s left eye as she talks.

“Ow, my eye!” Riley exclaims as he caresses the intrusion.

Rebecca ignores him and keeps describing her outfit. She’s
got a bright-red ladybug shell — complete with large black dots — affixed to
her back, a pair of thick, black antenna on her head and a beard made out of a
variety of fake flowers upon which a handful of little ladybugs sit. As she
talks, her beard moves slightly, following the movement of her mouth which is
completely hidden under her new facial accoutrement.

Around the two kids stand hordes of bearded men, some with
long, bushy beards while others wear wispy moustaches and whiskers. They’ve all
gathered to compete in the 9th annual Carolina Beard and Moustache
competition in which hundreds of people from all over the country, and
sometimes beyond, coalesce to be judged on their facial hair for charity.

This year’s competition will mark the third time the brother
and sister have competed in the event. While most of the categories focus on
men with beards and moustaches, categories exist for kids and women to
participate, too.

Riley’s beard is more two-dimensional compared to his
sister’s.

Made up of thin Styrofoam sheets, the 10-year-old’s
accessory depicts a hearty slice of pizza, complete with pepperoni, sausage,
green onion and extra cheese. To top it off, he wears a full pizza onesie
covered in pepperonis.

Their mother, Linda, walks in wearing a black hoodie and
eyeliner to match. Her beard, which she’ll show off in the Whiskerina natural
category — one of two categories for women — comes down past her belly button.
At more than two feet long, her beard looks like it could rival many of the
men’s real ones in the room.

“Everything is glued to my face,” Linda explains.

Rebecca Adams, Riley Adams and Linda Adams (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

By the end of the night, the whole family will end up taking
home three second place awards.

The competition includes 17 different categories ranging
from natural moustaches to goatees to full beards to sideburns and whalers. A
panel of three judges scores each contestant on things like styling, color of
the beard and overall appearance.

“At first it was guys getting together to give a better view
towards facial hair,” says Craig Grant, the president of the Greensboro chapter
of the Beard and Moustache Club of North Carolina. “Ten or 15 years ago, having
a beard was like having tattoos. Like if you had a beard you were a biker or
something. So, we just wanted to show like, No, we’re not like that.
We’re just trying to give a positive outlook.”

Grant says that the Greensboro chapter, founded 13 years
ago, is one of the oldest in the country, second only to one in Alaska. It and
other chapters in the state host competitions throughout the year as a way to
keep the community alive and to raise money for charity. Even people without
beards are encouraged to participate.

Adrienne Burnham from Charlotte has competed in the
competition for the last two years. This year, she’ll win the Whiskerina
creatives category for the first time.

“I thought it was really amazing that they have two
categories for women,” she says.

Burnham, who also ends up placing second in Best in Show,
created this year’s beard out of intricately rolled-up pieces of colorful paper
made out of a technique called quilling. The bright strips become spirals in
her fixture and create an ocean-themed scene with starfish, matching her
fish-themed skirt.

In all, Burnham says her beard probably took her about 20
hours to complete.

Eddie Kimmerling has been growing his moustache for years. (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

Others like Eddie Kimmerling have been cultivating their
facial hair for years. He walks around the club in a top hat and a jacket with
a fur-lined lapel and a cane in his right hand. Still, the most eye-catching
part of the macaroni man is probably the 14-inch moustache that sits upon his
upper lip. Specifically known as an English-style moustache, Kimmerling’s rendition
grows straight out from his face and ends in two points that curve ever so
slightly upwards. Tonight, he’ll win first place in the styled moustache
category, an honor he’s received more than once. The Long Islander has even
traveled overseas to compete in international tournaments. Last year, he placed
second in the English Moustache category. To keep up appearances, Kimmerling
says he keeps his moustache waxed all week and washes once a week with Pantene.

He says he started growing his moustache in 2014 after he
met another guy who had one. Since then, he’s become kind of famous for his
facial hair.

“Sometimes people recognize me from social media,” Kimmerling
says. “Random people will stop me on the street.”

Kimmerling expresses how many in attendance feel about their
beards and moustaches. He explains that it’s not just a form of style, but a
proud piece of who they are.

“It’s become a part of me,” Kimmerling says. “It’s given me
a new identity.”

Learn more about the Beard and Moustache Club of North Carolina’s Greensboro chapter on Facebook.

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