First-time competitor earns Mr. Fur Face title
The 2016 Mr. Fur Face crown was handed out Saturday at the Miners and Trappers Charity Ball in Anchorage. The award went to first-time competitor Calvin Alvarez.
The win proves you don’t have to be the most experienced competitor to win Mr. Fur Face, Alaska’s beard and moustache championships.
Alvarez hails from the Sunshine State. The rookie beardsman moved to Anchorage this past July. Not only was Saturday Alvarez’s first-ever beard competition, he didn’t even plan on entering the contest when he walked into the Egan Center.
“I just came here to watch,” Alvarez said. “And somebody suggested I enter the Wolf category and it all, you know, went crazy from there.”
After winning Wolf, Alvarez paraded on stage with the 12 other finalists until he was left standing with only the Brown Bear winner Adam Capossela, also a first-time Mr. Fur Face contestant. When they announced Capossela as the runner-up, Alvarez stood shocked. “I did not expect this at all,” Alvarez said. “It’s a great honor.”
Alvarez said his beard was trimmed, oiled with jojoba and cedar wood the day of the competition, no differently than it is on a normal day. His was far from being the largest beard of the night, but that’s not always what wins titles. Bob Gengler, 2009 Mr. Fur Face and one of this year’s judges, said the overall presentation of Alvarez’s beard fit together well with his face.
“It was nice and compact, full and thick,” Gengler said. “Very nicely groomed, an interesting beard all the way around.”
David Traver, a former Mr. Fur Face and this year’s Mountain Goat winner, when asked about Alvarez’s beard, said, “I like the color, the conformity… I thought he had a nice beard.”
Traver also won the Mr. Fur Face competition in 2000, and it was also the first beard competition of his life.
“I was like, ‘oh my goodness’, I just did my first beard competition and I won everything,” Traver said. He went on win Mr. Fur Face three more times in addition to a world championship and countless other titles.
Alvarez was convinced he’d be announced the runner-up, not Capossela. Born and raised in Anchorage, Capossela extracts birch oil and resin from Homer spruce to supply his own product line, Capo’s Alaskan Beard Oil. He too was surprised by the judges’ response.
“There’s a lot of great beards here in Alaska and I really came out here for business,” Capossela said.
Capossela, like Alvarez, had one of the smaller beards among his respective category. But conditioning and grooming eventually won out.
As the night went on, Traver said he noticed the judges were going for tight, well-groomed beards over size.
“I lean over to Doug Renfro and I said, ‘Doug, I think they’re going tight this year,’ and he goes, ‘I hope you’re wrong,'” he said.
Traver wasn’t wrong. Still, Renfro once again proved to fans at the Egan Center that he has the biggest-known beard in the state. The two-time Mr. Fur Face continued his Honey Bear dominance by winning it for a sixth time in seven years. Although he couldn’t defend his 2015 Mr. Fur Face title, Renfro said his winning ways haven’t slowed.
“To win in my category is awesome, it keeps up with the trend. I’ve never come less than third place in any competition I’ve ever been in,” Renfro said.
Ptarmigan went to South Central Alaska Beard and Moustache Club President, Jonathan Smiley, winning the category for a second time. The two-time Mr. Fur Face and three-time Brown Bear champion could be displaying the best bearder/stylist combo in Alaska. He again worked with Val Gunther of Stay Sharp Hair Design who styled his 2013 Ptarmigan victory.
It was Gunther who came up with the idea to incorporate a “66” into Smiley’s beard, in honor of the 66th anniversary of the Miners and Trappers Charity Ball, where Mr. Fur Face is held. However, the number was difficult to see from where judges and spectators were sitting.
“I think that I might have done a little bit better if they actually saw the design in there,” Smiley said. “I actually heard from one of the judges that he noticed after.”
Winning Red Fox was John Ragusa, a young bearder who first learned that competitions even existed when he entered Mr. Fur Face in 2015. Ragusa showed an impressive rate of growth, having started just this past September. Working security for cruise ships in Seward forced him to shave for the summer.
But after winning Red Fox, he said he’s conflicted.
“If I did this well with just the winter time, I can do way better if I had a year and a half on top of it,” Ragusa said. “I kind of want a different job and all my friends are yelling at me to get a different job.”
Ragusa said men with beards should feel discriminated against if they’re deemed unfit for hire due to the growth of hair on their face. Smiley shares the same sentiment.
“I think that’s extremely discriminatory,” he said. “I believe beards should be accepted everywhere.”