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Fuzzy faces raise funds for the YMCA

Every time he eats, Anthony Fontes tucks his beard into his shirt in a move he likes to call “tucker me beard.”

But at the “Love For The Beard” North vs. South Beard and Moustache Competition at Spotsylvania Towne Centre on Saturday, Fontes and about 100 other fuzzy-faced men let all their fuzziness hang out for a good cause.

beardThe second annual competition, which judged facial hair in 10 different categories, raised money for the Ron Rosner Family YMCA. Last year, the event raised $22,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network and the Rappahannock Area YMCA.

Taylor Gehring, the event organizer, hopes to raise that much again this year to help the YMCA reach its $500,000 goal for various projects such as family changing rooms.

“We have a great community and the YMCA does a lot for this community,” Gehring said.

Within the first hour of the event, 1,200 people spilled into the grassy field next to the Books-A-Million. Competitors came from across the country and even from Europe.

“I drove from Wisconsin because of the work that Taylor does. He raises a lot of money for the community. This is about camaraderie and community,” said Chris Kriskovic, who is known in beard circles as “Xtopher Grey.” The twists and turns that Kriskovic can form with his beard and mustache have won him national awards.

Fontes is known as “Swoosh Beard.” It takes him about an hour to style his mustache and the ends of his beard to make it look like the Nike swoosh.

Fontes’ beard beginnings trace back to his job at Cisco Systems, Inc. Fontes wanted to see how long he could grow out his beard until his bosses said something. But instead, people in the office began to grow their own beards.

“I started a trend,” Fontes said.

lo_081014beards1-largeThat trend is growing nationwide, many of the beard competitors said. And, they added, its growth really has nothing to do with the growing popularity of the television show “Duck Dynasty,” which features characters with long beards.

“Workplace expectations are different. It is more socially acceptable now. The popularity comes in waves,” said Ryan Wankel, who competed with his father on Saturday.

It takes Wankel 40 minutes to style his mustache and beard combination, which usually means he takes longer than his wife to get ready.

That is a facial-hair issue that Chad Roberts, one of the judges, could probably understand. Roberts likened having his award-winning foot-and-a-half-long beard to being pregnant because he has to walk differently, forgo wearing certain clothes and even watch how he straps on his seat belt.

Roberts said that as he judged participants in the ten different categories, he was looking at hair density and if there were any stray hairs.

“In some of the categories, it’s hard to split hairs,” Roberts said. “The contestants this year are great. It is tough.”

The categories ranged from natural mustache to business beards to freestyle.

There was even a category for women, which was one of Roberts’ favorite categories to judge. In that category, points are awarded based on the originality, creativity and the craftsmanship of the women’s fake facial hair creations.

“That takes planning beforehand, where you can really create,” Roberts said.

One female competitor gave herself a unibrow, wore a beard that matched her blonde hair and painted on black leg hair to complete a Flintstone-like look.

In the end, facial hair is really an art, Roberts said.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975;