Detroit Beard League to Battle at National Competition

A battle of the beards, and moustaches too, is taking place this weekend. The Second Annual National Beard and Moustache Championships sponsored by Beard Team USA is being held in Pennsylvania. And as WDET’s Rob St. Mary reports Metro Detroit men, and a few ladies as well, are gearing up for the competition.

(click the audio link above to hear the story)

For most men… it’s almost a daily ritual.

(sounds of shaving)

And I have to admit… I don’t relish dragging a metal blade across my face most mornings. But then again…I don’t know if I can commit to Ryan Hoppe’s daily routine.

“I’m in the bathroom for, man, 35 minutes a day just blow drying my beard, putting lotion in my moustache, flat ironing it… getting prepared for the day to make it look acceptable for the world to look at it and go “wow, that looks really good.””

Hoppe’s fiancée, Crystal Vann Norman says the beard care regime can be a bit much.

“If I could snap my fingers and get ready… that would be great. But, he, oh, my gosh. He gets out of the shower and it’s a routine, it’s a process. It’s like I need to clear the bathroom so he can have the blow dryer, the flat iron, all of his hair sprays and his waxes and everything and I’ll sit on the couch and be ready to go and he’s still in there doing his princess routine.”

But that "princess routine" has made Hoppe one of the reigning kings of beards in Detroit. That’s because he and his friend Mike Dutkewych are the founders of the Detroit Beard League. Dutkewych says the club is all about bringing facial hair fanatics together.

“Because, you know, there are “beardos” everywhere and it’s important that they realize that there is this brotherhood that exists.”

Dutkewych says the interest in bearding is kind of like being into body art.

“It has these primal implications about it. You know, it’s a sign of male virility… it’s, you know, it’s a very masculine thing to do and it’s also a very unique form of self-expression for anybody who gets into it. You know, it’s sort of… with the younger guys… it’s right in line with guys who get tattoos or a bunch of piercing or whatever.”

The duo’s group… the Detroit Beard League… is a local chapter of Beard Team USA… a national organization created by Phil Olsen. In a recent You Tube video, Olsen explains his goals for the sport of bearding.

“What could be more important than bringing people from different cultures, different age groups, different counties, people who speak different languages together in a celebration of facial hair and friendship?”

But one group that Olsen has left out of the mix is the ladies. Yes, ladies who love beards… or want to don their own creations… can take part in certain competitions. Van Norman says she might put something together for the upcoming national competition.

“I like going and watching it and the whiskerinas part is fun… getting to support the guys. But, I don’t know, it’s hard to keep up with Carolena and the other girls because they get serious about it. They do big intricate beards.”

While most ladies outside of the circus side show can’t traditionally grow beards… the idea of men shaving them off dates back centuries. Historians say Alexander the Great popularized the idea of shaving. The conqueror of the ancient world wasn’t interested in fashion but self-defense. It seems that Alexander realized a clean shaven face was harder to grab on to in close combat.

Facial hair has gone in and out of fashion over the centuries… and various styles have come and gone… but Hoppe says the front line in the war over the acceptance of whiskers often starts at home.

_“I would to see it accepted by mom, for sure. Every time I see her she usually strategically places pictures of me when I was younger or didn’t have a beard. And I’m like mom “where did this come from?” She’d be like “That my little boy with his cute little face, I’d like to see that.” And I would like that to be accepted. I’d like to be not hassled at work.” _

One way Hoppe and other members of the Detroit Beard League may gain some respect… if not some cash… would be to win with a championship level beard this weekend. The second annual national beard and moustache competition is being held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Organizers say thousands of competitors and spectators from around the world will converge in the heart of Amish country… where men have been famously growing their beards for religious reasons for centuries.

But, regardless of how they place… after the competition is over… Dutkewych and Hoppe say they are heading to a friend’s wedding near the championships. That friend is someone the duo met through bearding. Dutkewych says sometimes the ties that bind can be right in front of your face.

“It’s amazing how something so strange can lead to important, lasting impacts on our lives.”

Meanwhile, monthly meetings, charity events and local competitions are currently being planned for the Detroit Beard League in the coming year. And how it all came to be is rather simple… Dutkewych says it all starts with men putting down their razors.

“Quit shaving already. It sucks!”

I’m Rob St. Mary – WDET News.

For more on the Detroit Beard League:

For more on Beard Team USA: