beard contest

Lake Havasu City resident Tyler Rawson took home the prize for Best Overall Beard. He also took first in the Footlong Best Groomed category.

Over 50 contestants entered the London Bridge Beard and Mustache Contest – a historical event that made its return to Lake Havasu City on Saturday.

The event returned for the 50th anniversary of the London Bridge. Contestants competed in 16 different categories, and trophies were awarded to second and first place finishers. Lake Havasu City local Dan Delasantos, one of the event’s organizers, remembers the original beard and mustache contest, which his stepfather Bob Jewett won five times in a row for best handlebar mustache.

There were no original contestants in Saturday’s contest, but its return had strong interest.

“This is probably the biggest mustache and beard contest we’ve ever had,” Delasantos said. “I think the largest number was 40 and we’re over 50 at this point. So we’re calling it the 50/50.”

Delasantos said contestants and judges came from out of state, particularly from California and Nevada. There were also out-of-state sponsors, according to Delasantos. The event’s main sponsor was the Havasu Freedom Foundation, a local non-profit organization.

With the contest’s strong return, there are plans to make it an annual event and eventually make it part of the National Beard and Moustache Championship circuit, which also includes women’s competition.

“It’s a much bigger event these days than it ever has been before on a national level,” Delasantos said. “Starting and bringing this event back was critical. This one event right now at the anniversary of our city, it was the perfect timing to bring it back and now that we launch this one and it’s such a success right now, we have no problems seeing the future where this event really becomes huge for Lake Havasu City and gets us back on the map nationally.”

With plans of the event returning next year, the contest will add women’s and kids categories, where they’ll create beards. Lori Fries, who was one of Saturday’s five judges, is a female competitor in the category called Whiskerina.

Fries recently won a competition in Modesto, California. Her category allows her to create a beard or mustache out of crafts.

“It’s a craft beard category where you make it out of anything you want,” Fries said. “I highly suggest that a woman or child who’s interested, just Google ‘Whiskerina.’ It’s all over social media. All over Instagram. All over Facebook. All of the platforms. If you Google it, you’ll see pictures of wonderful beards that women have created.”

Fries and her boyfriend Patrick Dawson, traveled to Havasu from Las Vegas. The couple founded Sin City Beard Coalition, a Vegas-based beard club.

Dawson was originally slated to compete, but opted to become a judge. Dawson is No. 2 in the world of competitive boarding and is No. 1 in the country. He’s taken the last three national competitions and won the past two world events while taking second in the world for goatee.

“There’s some great beards here,” Dawson said. “I think a lot of them are local. I think there’s a lot of other great breads here in town that didn’t show up that are going to be jealous that they didn’t show up.”

After all categories were settled, the crowd at the English Village crowned the winner for best beard or mustache overall. All first place winners were the only ones eligible for the crown.

Each contestant had a rousing ovation, but the award for best overall beard went to Havasu resident Tyler Rawson, who also won first place in the footlong best groomed category.

“This is such a great location,” Dawson said. “Perfect time of year to be doing this. The London Bridge is such a beautiful setting and I really see this growing into something really exciting and fun.”

Before the final award was given out, former America’s Got Talent contestant and fire performer Antonio Restivo, performed fire breathing tricks for the crowd. Restivo, who holds the Guinness World Record for highest flame at 26 feet and 5 inches, was one of Saturday’s judges.

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Jeremiah Martinez is a California native and a graduate of Sacramento State University. He covers sports and recreation for the Today's News-Herald. You may reach Jeremiah at jmartinez@havasunews.com and you could follow him on Twitter @TheJerryMartin.

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