Your buddy may have already shaved his beard, but don’t think for a minute beards have been bypassed. WhiskerMania 4 — which takes place on Saturday, Jan. 26, at Diamond Pub — is evidence of that.
In fact, coming off the best-attended WhiskerMania yet in 2018 with some 450 attendees, the host Derby City Whisker Club is hoping for another big turnout. If last year signaled a trend, with nearly double the competitors and a 50-percent attendance hike, the group may get its wish.
“I think we always hoped it would be a big thing,” said club president Ryan Gore. “It really clicked last year and it became a big thing.”
Gore said part of the success may have been switching the timing. Originally a fall festival, WhiskerMania was moved to January, a strategy that seems to have worked by putting in less conflict with other bearding competitions around the region and country. Gore said there is a bearding festival going on somewhere nearly every weekend.
“We kind of found our spot in the year,” Gore said.
In truth, he added, bearding enthusiasts are a passionate and dedicated community that travels well. Making the festival easier to fit into a travel schedule can mean everything — Gore said recent weekends saw events in Oklahoma City and Myrtle Beach.
Louisville follows in kind and will likely be a destination for many bearders.
“It’s still its own community,” Gore said. “That’s their thing — they travel around the U.S., around the world, even. They see people they know, they hang out, and they just have a good time.”
Once again this year, there will be numerous categories for bearding competitors to enter, from natural beards of varying lengths to partial beards such as whalers and goatees, and all styles in between.
There are categories for styled mustaches, and the fake beard categories are extremely popular. A newer addition that began last year, a tag-team category, continues at WhiskerMania 4. Last year, 185 total competitors took part. Winners are chosen by a panel of five judges.
As usual, the event will raise funds for Active Heroes, an organization dedicated to preventing suicide among military veterans. Last year, Gore said, WhiskerMania raised more than $10,000 for the charity.
A $15 admission fee also covers registration into the contest, and all are welcome to compete. But many simply come to watch.
“When they hear about this fun event, they want to check it out,” said Gore. “We have people walk in with a beard and they say, ‘I’m just here for the party.’”
WhiskerMania 4 begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, with registration for competitors opening at 5 p.m. Diamond Pub in the Highlands is located at 630 Barret Ave. The event is 21 and over.
A pre-party event will be held Friday from 6 to 11 p.m. at Goodwood Brewing featuring live music by the Riflemen. And on Sunday, a farewell brunch will be held at 11 a.m. at Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse.