Beards & Brews For a Cause
By Adrian Gerth
Is your facial hair a common conversation starter? Do you spend hours twirling the ends of your moustache, or spend more on beard oil than shampoo? If the category of lumbersexual could describe you, then Front Street Brewery’s 3rd Annual Beard & Moustache Competition is calling your name. Beginning at 7 p.m. on February 6th, the Beam Room will host a no holds barred beard-fest where the winner takes home … a trophy, and the all-important bragging rights. The real winner of the event is USTOO, a nonprofit that serves the prostate cancer community with educational materials and resources free of charge. Starting in 1990 with only five members, they now have over 300 groups worldwide dedicated to a world without prostate suffering.
The local arm of USTOO, the Wilmington Prostate Cancer Support Group, is led by George Gardener, himself a survivor of the disease. With the twentieth anniversary of their charter coming up February 5th, they are especially grateful for the spotlight. Between Front Street Brewery and their sponsors, over 75% of the proceeds will go directly to USTOO, with a large portion of that directly impacting the Cape Fear Region. “We would not be able to reach out [to as many people] without those funds,” says George. The donations are used for training seminars and weekly ads during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month to encourage discussion and screening.
Outside of the competition, the main objective WPCSG is supporting the men and women of the Cape Fear. They have a free weekly meeting at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center at 6 p.m. every Thursday. They offer free literature, group, and private discussion about screenings and every stage of the disease that someone might face. While they don’t have any upcoming local events planned, George is always keeping his eyes open. “Our motto is ‘Have exhibit, will travel’,” he says. Their next general meeting will be 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 3rd at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in classroom C.
Ellie Craig has worked at Front Street Brewery for the past seven and a half years as their sales manager, and knows they’re no strangers to charity events. “We had ‘Mugs for Jugs’ in the past, which was a huge hit,” she says. “We just wanted to switch focus to include the guys as well.” She also has a personal connection to USTOO’s work; her father is a prostate cancer survivor. When she presented the idea to the crew three years ago, they leapt at the idea. Initially slated to begin with “No Shave November” but shot down due to scheduling problems, February provided a perfect match as it is officially deemed Cancer Prevention Month.
The growing popularity of the event has made it possible for all of the donations to go to USTOO “We have people coming from Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee,” says Ellie adding that some participants take part in national level competitions. There will be fourteen different categories to compete in, with a gold, silver, and bronze trophy for the top three contestants. With everything from Full Beard to Ginger Beard (and even Most Realistic for the ladies), there’s room for every type of beard, even if it’s just a near-beard. The judges are still up in the air at the moment, but they are typically local celebrities, says Ellie
For anyone who needs to stock up on their moustache wax, local blacksmith and facial hair aficionado Jeff Bridgers of Forge and Foundry will be attending the competition as well. Known as Wilmington’s only men’s grooming brand, Bridgers’ products cover men from the head down, including deodorant, cologne, and pomade. All of his hand-crafted products will be available at the competition, with a percentage of his profits going to USTOO.
Tickets for the competition are $10 for observers and $15 for entry. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the bar to fill out a form.