Virginia City dominates beard competition

Virginia City’s storied Storey County bearded bunch came loaded to Nevada Day 2012, winning the Most Bearded Community award Saturday by more than a whisker in a tiebreaker.Carson City brought on its own bunch and, after the first count didn’t produce a winner, a second walk through at the amphitheater south of the Capitol told the tale. It was Virginia City 57, the capital city a mere 46, so you have to wonder if the mining/tourist town hadn’t sandbagged things at first. Virginia City is serious about the post-Nevada Day parade contest, which features both the community competition and eight categories. Take Henry Jones, for example.“I won the blackest beard about five years in a row,” said the Virginia City competitor. This year he placed second in the salt-and-pepper contest. He said he has been among the top competitors some 15 times. Jones in the salt-and-pepper category on Saturday trailed only Robert Gonzalez in the eyes of a trio of judges: Nevada Supreme Court Justices Mark Gibbons and Nancy Saitta, plus Miss Nevada Outstanding Teen Ellie Smith of Las Vegas.Those judges loved their roles, particularly Ms. Smith. “This is awesome,” she said. Justice Saitta, not in her first go-round at a beard rodeo, said it is always fun. Gibbons offered no dissenting opinion.The contest’s master of ceremonies was Bad Billy Mayfield of the Mayfield gang, a gang of four in 19th-century western outfits that re-enact gunfights and do skits for various events.Texas Jack Vermillion kept tabs on the winners, while Marshall Jack Waggon and Miss Lilly from Philly mixed in for ambiance to help entertain the crowd of an estimated 1,000 or more.A first-timer in the beard contest, Carson City’s Tom Lynch, competed in both a category and to help his community in the walk through. He shared in second place with his community, small consolation given that only Virginia City and Carson City were in the hunt.“It’s just a lot of fun,” said Lynch, who added he grew his beard after retirement just to be ready for the contest.“I retired last year,” he said, disclosing he had been a security guard at the Nevada State Museum for six years. Before that, he spent about nine years at the Western Nevada Community College campus in Fallon and two decades in the Air Force.“So I decided to grow it for this,” he said. “I don’t have to shave, so what the hell.”Asked if he would keep the beard, letting it grow, and try again next year, Lynch grinned and gave the perfect answer for a retiree: “I don’t plan past two hours from now.”


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