PORTLAND, Maine — Winters grow long and beards grow longer. What’s a bro to do?
Showcase your growth at the Portland Facial Hair Festival March 26-30. The beard bash, held at the Ocean Gateway and across the city, launches this year to celebrate all things scruffy or stylized.
“It’s a chance to do some fun and ridiculous things that we might not be able to do any other time of the year,” said Nick Callanan, who dreamed up a mustache pageant called the Stache Pag in 2008 and turned it into a full-grown event. “We are helping to support the idea of facial hair freedom.”
This year, the goatee gala extends from Wednesday to Sunday and includes a facial hair farmers market, a beard and mustache competition called the Can Am challenge, a mustache film fest and all sorts of hairy hijinks.
Partners such as Maine Facial Hair Club and The Traveler Beer Co. have signed on to move this fringe fest out of the periphery.
For men like Jeremy French, president of Bearded Brothers for Change in Augusta, the festival is more than an opportunity to let their freak flag fly.
“We take it very seriously. I want to change the stigma of bearded men. We are not bikers, dirty hippies or thieves,” said French, who is competing in the 6-inch and under category.
Participating in the festival creates awareness for groups such as French’s that run fundraisers, conduct blood drives and recently built a wheelchair ramp for a man with cancer.
“We are a bunch of guys that have beards that want to give back,” he said.
As mustache mayhem takes off from Maine to Oregon to Texas, all facial hair enthusiasts are encouraged to attend. The Red Sox players may have shaved off their beards for spring training, but Maine men are holding tough.
“A lot of gentlemen put a lot of pride into their facial hair,” said Chris Roberts, who owns High and Tight Men’s Hair Care in Portland and will judge the competition.
“I’m excited to see different styles. Thrilled to see some of the lengths and creativity and see how much time and effort they put into their beards.”
Tickets for the Stache Pag on March 29 are $20. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. For information, visit facialhairfest.com.