Stunning upset: Carson takes most bearded community

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In a stunning upset Saturday, 20 hairy-faced Carson City men lined up on the Capitol steps and robbed the "Most Bearded Community" award from Storey County for the first time in five years.

Storey put 16 competitors on the steps. They were pretty hairy too.

"I can't believe what an upset this is," said Charlie Porchia, who along with his wife, Vicki, has organized the competition for the last several years.

Porchia, a Storey County resident who wears a trim, white beard, was disappointed in the county's showing.

"We just didn't rally the troops this year," he said. "Two of our stars didn't make it."

Ray Smith, Carson City resident and three-time first-place winner for whitest beard, was excited about the win.

"I love this day more than any other in the year," he said. "I play Santa for 30 days. But those days are for the kids -- This is MY day!"

Also an upset was the race for longest beard. "Hippie" Jon Bartlett of Virginia City placed third. Bartlett usually wins first place, or at least second. He didn't bother to get his third-place ribbon.

"Where is Jon?" asked Vicki Porchia through the bullhorn.

"He's gone to get another beer," joked Nevada State Supreme Court Justice Nancy Becker, a judge for the beard competition. While Becker measured Jon's long brown facial hairs with the official folding yard stick, Bartlett wrapped his arm around her for support.

Measuring in at 32 and one-half inches, Wes Brockman of Fernley won first place for longest beard, as he did last year. His secret? "Keep it out of the machinery."

Sweeping the blackest beard division, Carson City's Sikh community was looking sharp in fine suits and turbans. Winning the plaque for blackest was Kulwant Singhmand of Carson. Gurinder Singh took second and Jasbir S. Sandhu third.

Joining Becker as judge was state Supreme Court Justice Bill Maupin. When asked if the colorful beard crowd competed fairly, Maupin joked "They're all open and above board -- but it is a pretty hairy competition."

Aaron Steele, a welder from Stockton, won first place for reddest beard. Steele, with a future "second-generation first-place winner" named Alexander, his son, on his shoulders, leaked the secret to his success: "Don't shave, keep it clean and eat lots of carrots."

Next year watch for the World Championship Beard and Mustache Competition, coming to Carson City during Nevada Day.

"I think that's the greatest thing in the world," said Smith of the Nevada Day beard competition and the World Championship happening together.

"Yeah, the two competitions should complement each other," said Porchia.


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