RVA Beard League hosts 3rd annual Beard & ‘Stache Championships

Facial hair from all over the world comes to town this weekend.

Update #1 — April 22, 2014; 7:16 AM

People from as far away as Alaska and England will test their follicle finesse in 13 categories (see sidebar) at the 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championship on April 26th at The Canal Club.


  • Best in Show
  • Fake Creative
  • Fake Realistic
  • Full Beard Groomed
  • Full Beard Natural (< 1”)
  • Full Beard Natural (1” – 8”)
  • Full Beard Natural (> 8”)
  • Full Beard Styled (Freestyle)
  • Moustache Natural
  • Moustache Styled
  • Partial Beard Natural
  • Partial Beard Styled
  • Sideburns

“Things went really well last year, so we tried to keep the changes to a minimum,” said Chad Roberts, president of the RVA Beard League (see below), organizers of the championship, about this year’s event. “As a regrettable addition this year, before things get going, we’ll have a moment of silence for Dave Brockie, a hell of a great guy who judged at our first competition,” Roberts said.

The only change to the competition is that the previous Full Beard Natural (1” in length and over) category has been split into two categories : beards 1”- 8” and beards over 8”.

Roberts said that there is “renewed emphasis” this year in the “Longest Beard” prize, given to the contestant that travels the farthest distance to participate in the event.1 In addition to a trophy, the winner will receive a prize pack of Richmond-specific items, including Lamplighter coffee, KIMKIM hot sauce, and more.

Melissa Chase from 103.7 FM will return as a judge and will be joined by four newcomers:

  • Mike Henry • voice of Cleveland on Family Guy
  • Valient Himself • singer of Valient Thorr
  • Sam Ellis • lead character designer on Archer
  • Chris Tolleson • cast member on MTV’s Are You the One?
  • John Campbell • bassist of Lamb of God

Leading up to Saturday’s championship will be two events open to the public:

The Championships will take place at 6:00 PM on Saturday, April 26th at The Canal Club. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Proceeds will benefit Safe Harbor, a shelter for survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

The following morning the public is invited to attend the Hangover Brunch at On The Rox.

The 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championship takes place on Saturday, April 26th at the Canal Club, located at 1545 E. Cary Street.

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Original — April 22, 2013

Local beard and mustache lovers1 will revel in their fetish for facial hair this Saturday at the 2nd annual Mid-Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championships when a panel of judges will scrutinize roughly 200 beards, mustaches, and mutton chops from around the country.

“It’s a little bit like a dog show in the sense that you go on stage and show the audience what you have,” said Chad Roberts, president and founder of RVA Beard League, the group behind the event.

RVA Beard League2 formed in 2011 after Roberts noticed “there were a lot of great beards in town.” He thought bringing together these local facial hair enthusiasts “seemed like a fun thing to do.” So each month, the 40-or-so active members (along with appearances from some of the group’s over 100 non-bearded supporters) hold a “pub night” at Station 2. Members also involve themselves in activities that help the city.

Among the past group-led community engagements: adopting two streets to clean and maintain, organizing a “cash mob” to patronize local businesses, and speaking to students at local elementary schools to “try and put a positive face with the beard,” Roberts said.

Their work hasn’t gone unnoticed. City Council recently recognized the group and declared April to be Richmond Facial Hair Appreciation Month in their honor.

When not stewarding community initiatives, Roberts routinely enters his beard–currently about 14” long, grown uncut for over two years–in contests across the country.3 Based on his experience visiting other cities, he believes Richmond has one of the highest rates of beards per-capita. “I think it’s almost a hotbed,” he said. “Richmond is very creative and some of that natural self-expression lends itself to [facial hair].”

Some of those self-expressions will be on display this Saturday at the Mid-Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championships at the Canal Club.

Beard and ‘Stache categories

  • Full Beard Groomed
  • Full Beard Natural
  • Full Beard Styled (freestyle)
  • Full Beard under 1”
  • Moustache Natural
  • Moustache Styled
  • Partial Beard Natural
  • Partial Beard Styled
  • Sideburns/Muttonchops
  • Fake Creative
  • Fake Natural

When we talked last week, Roberts said roughly 180 people had pre-registered for this year’s competition. They’ll travel from states like California, Florida, Colorado, Ohio to compete among 11 categories (see sidebar).

True to the communal spirit of RVA Beard League, the championships will benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Richmond & Tri-Cities.

Roberts said the success of last year’s inaugural event was surprising. “We weren’t sure if 30 people would show up or 300.” It was closer to the latter. “The place was packed. We had to turn away people at the door.” That’s why organizers have moved this year’s event to the upper level of the Canal Club, which holds a larger capacity.

Judging each contestant will be:

  • Chris Adler • drummer for Lamb of God
  • Melissa Chase • 103.7 The River radio host
  • Jesse Smith • local tattoo artist, top 5 finalist on Spike TV’s Ink Master.
  • Amy Sakasitz • former child actress (Margaret in the Dennis the Menace movie)
  • Steve McKenna • bartender at Fat Dragon Kitchen and Bar

Roberts said that even if one can’t grow a beard, he or she can still be a supporter of RVA Beard League and be welcomed at the upcoming Championships.

“It’s the inner beard that counts. It’s more of a mindset and ease than anything else,” he said. And for those thinking of growing out a mustache or beard, Roberts advises you let it grow for four to six weeks before making any judgements on whether to keep it.

“You have to find a facial hairstyle that suits you best,” Roberts said. “And once you find it, just own it.”

The 2nd annual 2013 Mid-Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championships is Saturday, April 27th at the Canal Club. Tickets are $10 (plus a $3 service fee), and sign-up is free for competitors.

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  1. Pogonophilia
  2. Originally, The Follicles of the James ‘Stache & Beard League, before the group trimmed the name. 
  3. Roberts became bit of an Internet meme when he created the Spider-Beard in January for a competition in New Jersey. The style took him 45 minutes to prepare. 

photos by: Erin Soorenko

  1. The 2012 recipient drove 454 miles from Connecticut. The 2013 recipient flew from England. 
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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

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