Annual battle of the beards raises money for good cause

SHIPPENSBURG – Bearding Man, “a music festival and facial hair competition,” returned to The Thought Lot (37 E. Garfield Street) on September 21 to celebrate beard culture and to raise money for the Gary Sinese Foundation.

The event included numerous vendors catering to the bearded lifestyle plus food by Pully Wissle Provisions and a performance by Chambersburg-based rock group Mawcore.

Since 2014, Bearding Man has pitted beards against each other in a variety of categories based on length, creativity, color and gender.

Adam Crabill was one of the contestants at the inaugural event, and he has become increasingly involved with the Bearding Man over the years. Today he serves as the event’s director, organizer and a contestant working to ensure that it continues to grow, year after year, like, well, a beard.

“We have varying length of natural beard, so anything from 0-2 inches, 2-6 inches, 6-10 inches or 12 inches and longer, so forever beards,” said Crabill. “We do natural and styled moustache. We do a freestyle beard, which can be styling your beard in any crazy design. We also do a ‘whiskerina’ category, which is essentially fake beards for women. It’s a lot of fun. It can be realistic-looking like it’s made of hair or it can also be a sculpture that is made with items that resemble a beard.”

He continued: “We also hold a category called ‘spicy ginger’ that is dedicated to red beards. We’ve held some others in the past that are really fun. ‘Wizard beards’ for long, white beards. We used to do a heritage category, which was a family category for gentlemen who came with brothers, cousins, dads.”

For this year’s competition, Crabill went with a full freestyle beard.

“Basically, I parted it in the middle – a handlebar moustache and a handlebar beard,” he said. Crabill hasn’t shaved since 2013, and only trims when necessary to remove split ends or create a specific style.

But Bearding Man isn’t just for a good time (and glory); it’s also for a good cause.

“The cause that we’re benefitting this year is the Gary Sinese Foundation,” said Crabill. “The foundation is wonderful because it benefits veterans, soldiers, families of soldiers, first responders, and, actually, they’ll go so far as to help anyone who needs it. It has specifics, but it really will help anyone who really, really needs it if that foundation is called upon.”

The organization has a special resonance for Crabill who worked as a tow truck driver for CDC Repair and Towing, a headlining sponsor of Bearding Man 2019.

“We also go to the scenes,” said Crabill. “We are on the side of the highway helping people. We knew a gentleman a year ago who got hit doing our job. Being able to do something for first responders meant a lot to me as the organizer.”

Joseph Farrell, who drove in from Pittsburgh for the event, has used his beard to travel the world: competing in competitions, raising money for good causes and meeting new people.

“As soon as I got a pretty big beard, I automatically knew the first two or three questions people would ask me in any social situation, and then I got the ball rolling,” said Farrell. “It really made it a lot easier to interact with people.”

Farrell began using Honest Amish beard products because they were local to him (based in Greenfield, PA) and he wanted to use natural, organic products.

“I didn’t want to put anything on my face that I wouldn’t also be willing to eat if I had to,” he said, “because it’s going to happen by accident.”

Eventually Farrell approached the company about a sponsorship deal, and they accepted.

“It’s been a vehicle to see the country,” said Farrell of the sponsorship. “I even got to go to the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Antwerp – things I’d never, ever thought I’d be able to do – because I grew a beard.”

For this year’s competition, Farrell started with a protective layer of Honest Amish beard products to create a protective layer on his beard, and he then proceeded to twist and sculpt using Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze spray to keep his gravity-defying ringlets airborne. The process took three hours.

“Usually, I spend four,” he said, “but I styled in the hotel down the street, so I was limited by time.”

A lot has changed over the course of Farrell’s bearding career, but even through all of the changes, at the end of the day, it’s all for a good cause.

“It’s not something exists as much anymore, but when I started bearding back in 2012. Those guys were all starting out,” said Farrell of the people who landed endorsements. “A few of us got in on the deal, I guess. And they (Honest Amish) sponsor lots of beard competitions, too, and it has donated a lot to charity.”

Meanwhile, Adam Crabill and Scott Hart (who helps to organize the event and emcees it) are already prepping for next year’s Bearding Man.

“We’re going to start planning 2020 tomorrow,” said Crabill. “We want to be able to talk to the vendors and the sponsors that we have now and be able to involve more of our general community as soon as possible.”

[Main image caption: Adam Crabill, Bearding Man director, organizer and contestant, poses with the championship belt during Bearding Man 2019, which was held on September 21, to raise money for the Gary Sinese Foundation. ]

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