Aaron Berg

Aaron Berg, the organizer and co-host of the Blue Ribbon Beard Bonanza, is excited about who will show up with their styled facial hair to participate in the Blue Ribbon Beard Bonanza contest during the Isanti County Fair on July 24. Photo by Sarv Mithaqiyan

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Isanti County and surrounding area beard and mustache growers who want to know how well of a facial hair they’ve developed can enter an upcoming contest at the Isanti County Fairgrounds in Cambridge.

The second annual Blue Ribbon Beard Bonanza will take place during the Isanti County Fair, at 3 p.m. on July 24 at the Isanti County Fairgrounds, 3101 Highway 95 NE, Cambridge.

The event is sponsored by the Minnesota Beard and Mustache Coalition, Isanti County Fair, Level-Up Beard Co., South of the River Facial Hair Club, Bad Jack, Thunder Brothers Brewery and Willow Bridge Center. The Blue Ribbon Beard Bonanza is part of a nonprofit charity organization that fundraises for cancer awareness, said Aaron Berg, organizer and co-host of Blue Ribbon Beard Bonanza.

“Each contestant is also judged on, like, crowd appeal or appearance or their persona when they come up on stage,” Berg said. “It’s similar to maybe a Miss America-type pageant, where there’s an interview session and then, ‘Tell us about yourself and fancy costumes or outfits.’ Or some people just come without it. So there’s a whole variety.

“And you can tell in the crowd, who are the serious competitors, and who are the guys that just showed up for the event and heard about it and want to participate,” he continued. “So the more professional are the people who’ve been in multiple contests. You can pick them out of the crowd.”

Berg explained that contestants will receive an honest evaluation of their facial hair: its symmetry, length, size, girth, thickness, density, uniformity and more.

The first time the Isanti County Fair hosted Beard Bonanza was in 2019. Contestants numbered in the 30s from Wisconsin, Chanhassen, Lakeville, Minnetonka, Foley, Minneapolis and other nearby areas, Berg said. However, plans to host the contest in 2020 were upended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The contest categories include:

- 5 o’clock shadow - preceded by a fresh 8 a.m. shave; timestamped photo required.

- Mustache.

- Kids Craft - kids can craft their mustache with on-site supplies or at home.

- Partial Beard.

- Full Beard - short (less than 6 inches).

- Whiskerina - this is for ladies who wish to participate.

- Full Beard - long (more than 6 inches).

- Freestyle.

The contest will award first, second and third prize winners in each category, as well as a Best in Show Award. For pre-registration, contest rules, category and other information, visit blueribbonbeardbonanza.com.

Supporting the Maddy Nelson Memorial Foundation

Proceeds from this year’s Blue Ribbon Beard Bonanza will benefit the Maddy Nelson Memorial Foundation, in memory of Madison (Maddy) Rose Nelson, 18, of Cambridge, who died of cancer in 2016.

“And her parents now have a foundation and do scholarships for high school kids going into college,” Berg explained. “So we’re going to donate to the scholarship fund this year, whatever profits we have.”

Isanti County Fair returns

The 2021 Isanti County Fair is scheduled for July 21 through July 25.

“We have all the entertainment booked for our band shell and the grandstand events are hired. Most of our food vendors will be back along with some new ones,” said Bryce Sorenson, Isanti County Fair Board president.

The county fair anticipates about 20,000 to 25,000 people, according to a news release by the Isanti County Fair.

“We will be working closely with the 4-H to comply with whatever the COVID-19 standards are at the time we have the fair to ensure public safety to the best of our ability,” the news release explained. “The Fair Board will be providing additional handwashing stations throughout the grounds.”

Exhibitors are encouraged to start preparing their needlework, quilts, canning, baking, arts, crafts, or whatever projects they would like to enter in the Open Class.

Fair participants can visit the newly constructed Agribition building located in front of the horse arena. Another new addition is also the miniature horses on display in the newly remodeled horse barn.

The Isanti County Fair is always in need of sponsors and volunteers for the fair.

People who want to volunteer and help the Isanti County Fair can contact a board member at isanticountyfair.com or by calling 763-689-2555.

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