The North Country Irish Festival is preparing for its third annual Donegal Beard Growing Contest. Men from all over came to Sportsman's Barber Shop to enter in the contest and receive a fresh shave. YNN's Carmella Mataloni stopped in the barber shop to watch as the contest began.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- Happy New Beard was the theme at Sportsman's Barber Shop as contestants lined the walls, all waiting to get a clean shave to begin the Donegal Beard Contest.
"We use the wet towel on them, the shaving cream and we shave them off. Then they get their pictures taken and it's the kick off to the contest," Connie Johnston, owner of Sportsman’s Baber Shop.
The goal is to see who can grow the best Irish-style Donegal beard, which is a beard with no mustache or soul patch.
Three months of growing, grooming and trimming will be judged by experts at the Irish Festival in March and the winner will be determined on things like length, fullness and whether or not it's a true Donegal.
"People could do whatever they want. Color it, shave it but ultimately, the best results are the people who let it grow full until the festival and then shave off their mustache and soul patch and bring it out to show off," said first year winner Steve Hunt.
Steve Hunt won the title King of All Beards two years ago. He says that this contest is a good way to bring in the festival.
"There is nothing better than getting out on Saint Patrick's Day weekend, kind of throwing the winter off your shoulders and this is sort of an opportunity to count down to that," said Mr. Hunt.
All of the men who came out for a clean shave say the beard contest is something they look forward to every year and it's a great way to get involved in the Irish Festival.
"This is actually the second year I've done it. It's a great way to participate in a really nice festival. I don't sing and I don't dance, but it's pretty easy to grow a beard," said John Hoefler of Watertown.
"It gives you a chance to celebrate your heritage and it lets you have some fun with beards," said Dana Horning of Burrville.
More than fifty men have signed up for the contest. All are hoping to bring home the King of all Beards title for 2013.