Bold beards battle for top prize

Christopher Dornblaser
  • About 30 men showed up to enter their beards in a beard competition at Memorial Hall Saturday.
  • Two Yorkers took top prizes.

On Saturday afternoon, dozens of people filled Memorial Hall at the York Expo Center for the Epic Men's Expo.

Booths and attractions lined the hall, but at 12:30 p.m., there was one attraction the drew the most people: The Epic Beard and Mustache Contest. The expo celebrated "manly" events and attractions, such as beer, cigars and boating.

About 30 men showed off their beards and got judged by a panel of three. The men were divided into categories by facial hair, such as stylized mustache, full beard-freestyle and full beard-natural. The latter two drew the biggest crowd.

Judges watch as contestants line up in the Natural Beard category during the Epic Men's Show Beard and Mustache Contest Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, at Expo Center Memorial Hall West. Amanda J. Cain photo

While many of the men had come from out of the county, from areas such as Philadelphia and Maryland, two local men came out on top in the contest.

Winners: Merrill Detweiler, of Wrightsville, earned first place for the full natural beard contest. Detweiler's long white beard cascades to the middle of his chest.

Detweiler has been growing his beard for five years and had previously won a beard contest in Lancaster. He said he had heard about this competition, much closer to where he lives, and decided to come.

"I didn't know what to expect," he said.

Merrill Detweiler, of Wrightsvile, poses for a photo after winning the Epic Men' s Show Beard and Mustache Contest Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, at Expo Center Memorial Hall West. Amanda J. Cain photo

He said he was happy to be there, and  his beard was greeted with much praise from his fellow bearded contestants.

Second place in that same contest went to Dustin Hildebrand, of Dover Township. While Hildebrand came in second for the full natural beard contest, he came out on top for the People's Choice Award. The winner of that award was determined by audience applause instead of the judges' critiques.

Hildeband had heard about the event days earlier and decided to give it a shot. He had never entered a beard contest before.

"(I) thought it'd be fun," he said.

He said his win was exciting, and he didn't expect it. Like Detweiler, Hildebrand commended his fellow beard contestants.

"There are some awesome beards here," he said.

The two were among 10 men in their category. They were asked to walk around on stage and show off their beards, while the judges ranked them. Both Detweiler and Hildebrand received prizes, including a glass mug and some grooming products.

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— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.