Bob Stransky has always had fun competing in the Beard Contest as part of the annual Nevada Day celebration. However, he’s taken a more earnest tone this year as he takes over for the first time as chairman of the competition.
“I live up in the Virginia City Highlands,” he explained. “The beard contest up here is a pretty big deal for all these guys.”
He said winners traditionally hang their plaques in Virginia City’s Corner Bar.
“There’s 50 or 60 plaques up there,” Stransky said. “A lot of people take this pretty seriously.”
The beard contest is open to anyone with a beard, and there’s no entry fee. Admission is also free to spectators.
It will begin sometime between 1-2 p.m. Oct. 31, immediately following the 77th annual Nevada Day parade.
This year, it will move from the Legislative Plaza to the parking lot of the old Citibank, 308 N. Curry St., during the celebration in downtown Carson City.
“Spectators’ biggest complaints have been that they cannot see or hear the competition very well due to the large crowd,” said Nevada Day Marketing Coordinator Dana Lee Fruend. “So this year, we have a stage and sound system to better accommodate.”
Stransky said he will continue the contest’s eight categories — longest, fullest, reddest, whitest, blackest, best salt & pepper, best groomed and scruffiest — as well as the prize for most bearded community.
“My first year, I didn’t want to change too much,” he said.
He will be adding an overall winner to the lineup, where the winners from each of the categories will compete for the grand prize.
The champion will be selected by the audience’s cheers.
“It gets the crown to participate a little,” Stransky said. “I know we’re going to have all good winners up there.”
Stransky, 63, moved to the area in 1978 and has participated in the Nevada Day Beard Contest for 25 years. He said he typically starts growing his beard in August during his annual Clampers outing.
“I usually have a decent beard for the contest,” he said. “Then in the spring, I shave it off again.”
Whether a contestant or chairman, he said, the competition is a good way to show his pride in the Silver State.
“I’m really into Nevada,” he said. “This is history.”