My first beard competition was Orlando’s ‘Battle of the Beards!’ It was held Sunday, Father’s Day, in the Wall St. Plaza in downtown Orlando, FL. Building up to this I was a nervous wreck! lol I had no idea what to expect as the Battle’s website is long on looks, and short on information. I did know who was going to be there as for judges and host/sponsor. The sponser is Michael Albanese of Beard & Stache Bars (www.BeardBars.com) and the three judges; Jeff Carruth – drummer for Beebs and Her Money Makers, Adrian Awasom – defensive end for the Orlando Predators, and Angel Rivera – DJ @ Real Radio 104.1 in Orlando, FL). New York based comedian Mark Riccadonna was also present as co-host I think! In the picture below, from left to right is; Gary W Norman (Me), Vincent Snyder, Jeff Carruth, Adrian Awasom, Michael Albanese, Angel Rivera, and the 3 unknowns in front and right side.
No sooner than I arrived, I met a long time cyber friend, Vince, and then I was ‘whisked’ off for a weird interview with 2 other contestants.Once upstairs, we were taped combing or stroking our beards without saying a word. Then we did the interviews, seperately of course. I say the interviews were weird because we looked at a camera and not at the interviewer..reality show like, and answered questions they asked, but by working their question into our responses. Then we headed back downstairs at the WaiTiki Lounge to meet up with folks already there. I was a tad overwhelmed (I don’t get out much) with the people waiting for us. I got to meet some of my sites members, and new folks too. I was still in a ‘daze’ from the odd interview, and confused and excited so I was totally scatter-brained! lol I wanted to take pics, talk with folks, and try to stay cool.
The Crowd gathered as folks listened to tunes and drank various things from liquor and beer, to soda and tea. The event was 18+. There were some vendors there selling t-shirts and beard and mustache related items; drinking glasses, shot glasses, jewelry, and shots! lol There was a feeling of ‘un-organized’ to this early on, so I figured I was there for the ride. The categories were rather limited in this event to; Best Beard, Best Stache, Best Groomed, Most Creative, Most Unfortunate, and Best Ladys Beard. There also were no 1st, 2nd, or 3rd places; only 1st place. I know folks came from as far away as MIami for the event (B.O.M.B.). Brotherhood of Mustaches & Beards was present, and there was one guy from Gainesville, and probably some from out-of-state too I dont doubt.
The competition started roughly when they said it would and they took the first three categories; Best Groomed, Best Stache, and Most Creative. This event seemed a new experience to almost all that were part of it..lol there were a few ‘showmen’ who worked the stage well and made quite an impression. Of course I discovered that I have NO stage presence whatsoever and pulled a Charleton Heston as Moses; and just stood there with my arms outstretched like I was parting the Red Sea. I did shake my beard in the fashion my dog shakes…lol In between the first 3 categories and the last three, a small, quickly formed band played some tunes, a few beard and stache oriented too.
It was a lovely day in the mid 80’s (Fahrenheit) and sunny with a short, lite rain. Not enough to make it steamy though thankfully. There were lots of people taking pics, some spectators, some pros. You had to look at the type cameras they used! lol I had gotten the feeling one guy was following me around, but kept thinking it was just ‘me’ since this was a new thing for me to experience, but after about an hour, when I first pulled out one of my pipes, did he come up and ask to take pics of me smoking my pipe. I said ‘sure’ and we stepped out into the sun and he snapped away. The same photographer was also by the stage as we lined up for the Best Beard category to do the ‘catwalk.’ He was snapping pics away and 2 of those pics made it into the Orlando Sentinel on the following Monday, June 18th, 2012.
After the winners of each category were announced and prizes handed out, the group gathered for pics, with cameras snapping and cameras rolling too. As this was going on, I was off to the left of the stage trying to get prices on some souveniers I was interested in and while I was waiting, I was talking to one of the crew of Battle of the Beards. She was telling me how tired the crew was and how long they’d worked setting this up, then mentioned they’d just been told, that this event was going to be a ‘reality show.’ She then went on to say they were heading to Austin, TX,and rambled off some other states, then sighed and added ‘Alaska and Hawaii.’ So this should be interesting to see what happens and how this travellig Beard Comp witll do. They have work to do to organize it a bit better which I’m sure will happen as they do more and more of these events.
Below is the group of Winners, Judges, Sponsor, and Crew of Battle of the Beards. I did not win my category, but feel I DID win as the experience was very cool, two of my site’s members won awards, and I made it to the Orlando Sentinel! 😀