Beards, Beer and Louis Barabbas

Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012

Regular readers may remember around a year ago I did an introduction to the world of Competitive Bearding, covering the World Beard and Moustache championships held in Norway.

This year will see the inaugural UK Championships hit Brighton in September, organised by the British Beard Club. As a little taster, Scarborough this weekend played host to a Northern Beard Meet-up, held at The Spa.

Billed as a relaxed family-friendly sunday afternoon filled with a mini beard championship, old music played on gramophones, beers (there was a tasty special cask of “Beloved is the Beard” ale (complete with brain blessed beer-clip label)), and later in the evening a gig by the bearded Louis Barabbas and The Bedlam Six. Funds raised were donated to the Prostate Cancer charity.

Organiser Anthony Springall ( @thejawline ) prepares to address the room
Organiser Anthony Springall ( @thejawline ) prepares to address the room

Being fans of beard competitions (travelling to Alaska and Norway to take photos of them, is, admittedly a little extreme), Julia and I packed our cameras and braved the driving rain and sleet on the A64 headed for the east coast.

It’s at this point I should admit I was inspired at the last world championships to grow a bit of a beard. Initially just to see what it was like as I’ve never gone beyond stubble before, which then lead into growing a cool moustache for Movember, and has somewhat persisted. Being the shy retiring type I wasn’t at all sure about entering a competition with my beard, but a nagging sense of responsibility made me grab some moustache wax on the way out of the house, just in-case I went a bit crazy.

We arrived to a very wet Scarborough. Oh so much rain! There was a worry it might keep away the crowds, but it certainly didn’t dampen spirits, and before long the sun cafe at The Spa was awash with slightly nervous-looking men (and women!) ready to do hairsuite battle. After a bit of beer and a study of the beard categories (and realising what i’ve grown so far is spot on for the Verdi category) I sheepishly threw my hat into the ring.

The Categories
The Categories

The thing I love about Beard (and Moustache) championships is the infectious sense of fun – they are by their very nature a bit silly, and it’s hard not to get a bit giddy 🙂 Case in point – the first person I asked to take a photo of was this lady:

Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012An impressive freestyle fake beard I think you’ll agree (unsurprisingly, she was entering the fake beard category). She excitedly blurted out that they’d only heard about the event a short time earlier – she and her (I assume) partner (possibly hostage?) were driving through the area, listening to local radio when they heard about the event – so excited they were about the concept of a beard championship they gave up the days original plans, and headed straight for The Spa. It’s this mad sensibility and throwing caution to the wind that makes me proud to be British 🙂

She wasn’t the only lady there entering the fake beard category either – there was loads – some who’d obviously put in a lot of thought and preparation for their fake beards (particularly the ladies from Radio York)!

Hands up if you love beards!
Hands up if you love beards!


They weren't kidding about family friendly
Family Friendly or Child Abuse: You Decide 😉

Through the afternoon the various categories were arbitrated by these 2 lovely judges (note the heretic lack of beards -shocking):

Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012

Judging is via the following steps for each beard category:

1. Standing in a line infront of the judges for them to compare and contrast your fine beardly wares collectively

Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012

2. Parading around the room to the cheers and applause of those in attendance (playing up to the audience optional, but very much encouraged and appreciated)


Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012

3. Each taking it in turn to stand infront of the judges, answering questions and showing off your beard to the best of your manly ability. Showing off a bit here can make all the difference between a winner and an also-ran. May I present the Usain Bolt:

Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012

The top 3 contestants in each category were duly awarded, with the actual placings to be announced at the half-time break in the Louis Barabbas gig later on — ooh, tension!

So what of my attempt? Ahem.Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012(I should point out the sky is blowing out the right-hand part of the tash, and I probably should have given it a trim beforehand! )

For a while I thought I was going to be the only entrant in the category (and with hindsight I’m quite happy in the end that I had some competition – the whooping and applause reserved for the parading of one entrant in a category to himself was really quite terrifying!).

May I present: My Nemesis (also known as Jim Middleton)

Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012A fine, fine beard I think you’ll agree, with a coiffured head of hair seemingly purposefully designed to mock my receding hairline. He was even taller than me (if you’ve ever met me you’ll know this is a mean feat  – i’m 6ft4). He even made his own moustache wax. I wasn’t going to stand a chance.

But enough about me, I’m a photographer and here’s the main reason I went:

Left: a Styled Stubble entrant, Right: Full natural beard.
Left: a Styled Stubble entrant, Right: Full natural beard (aka Michael Legge).
100% Full Natural Beard, 100% Bad-ass.
100% Full Natural Beard, 100% Bad-ass.
Freestyle Beard!
Full Beard Freestyle! (aka Adrian Riley)
Another Freestyle!
Another Full Beard Freestyle!
Partial -Beard Freestyle!
Partial -Beard Freestyle! (aka Dominic Hallam)

Finally to round off the evening was an excellent gig in The Spa’s Theatre by Louis Barabbas and The Bedlam Six singing a surprising amount of up-tempo songs about dispatching an ex wife!)

Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012
Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012

All in all an excellent, silly, and very funny day out. And if any of this appeals, you’ve still plenty of time to grow something for the UK championships in September – the world championship medals are usually dominated by the Germans and the Americans – maybe it’s time we upped our game 😉

Oh yes, so how did I do in the end?…. well… a bit of a surprise victory 🙂

Beards, Beer & Louis Barabbas @ Scarborough Spa, 04-march-2012

Rick Harrison is the Northern UK Champion of the Verdi Beard. When he’s not waxing his moustache he’s a freelance photographer, and the Culture Vulture’s photography Editor. You can find him lurking on twitter as @sovietuk


  1. What a fantastic Day
    No I did not have a beard that day but was hoping as a fello judge and woman I would have at least had enough facial hair to support a moustache but I’d sadly had it waxed last week. I do apologise. ha!

    I am so glad you are happy with your victory which was well deserved and I hope my judging skills as a beard lover were professional and with no hard feelings for the bearded friends who didn’t get through yet tried really hard.
    I enjoyed every minute of the day and as an international session stylist working within in the magazine/photography industry this has to have been one of my most interesting enjoyable and bizare requests to date.
    The pictures of the chapschappess’s are brilliant and I cant wait untill it all happens again.
    Well Done to all!!!

    Dawnelouise Cooper

    Beard Judge

    1. Hello!

      Thanks for commenting – and well judged!
      (tho there is now a spot of controversy(!) – I was announced the winner at the gig interval, but my competitor was listed as the winner in the Scarborough newspaper! – I might not be Champion Verdi after all :-s
      I think we’re classing it as a draw, and next year we’ll wage all-out (beard) war to truly decide 🙂

      1. It’s the decent chappish thing to do. Let battle commence! Let slip the beards of war! I warn you now though, I’ll be applying a twice daily dose of Imperial Russian bear grease to the beard to both encourage vigour and repel barbers.


        1. Hopefully a worthy Challenger!! Thanks for the fun filled family evening!! Will be sure to bring the children next year!! Hopefully they will see there daddy hold onto the full natural title!! Let’s hope my victory continues at the BBMC at Brighton in September!! Much love x


    Well we all know that the papers can sometimes elaborate on the truth or get things wrong by miss printing, bla bla.

    As a now official judge I obviously know who is the named winner, but to avoid any upset I shall indeed keep this information to myself and await next years battle.

    It will make for a much for interesting battle or the beard!!!!

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