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 the following:
5 o’clock shadow - preceded by a fresh 8 a.m. shave; timestamped photo required
Full Beard - short (less than 6 inches).
Whiskerina - this is for ladies who wish to participate
Full Beard - long (more than 6 inches)
Kids Craft - kids can craft their mustache with on-site supplies or at home
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.
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.
“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.