‘Movember’ ends with beards, brews
LAKE PLACID — Dozens of bearded men meandered beneath the dim bar lights.
Outside, the wind carried snowflakes in whimsical circles across Sentinel Road. But the bar at Lisa G’s was packed. A cozy respite from the blustery weather.
At the appointed hour, dozens of men lined up one by one before a table where four women sat, closely scrutinizing the hair on their faces. Some of the men performed, jutting their chins out for the women to touch, or bowing low, careful not to spill the beer in their hands.
A “best beard” award — and one year of bragging rights — were on the line.
Altogether, 24 men signed up to participate in this year’s Beers and Beards competition at Lisa G’s, a mainstay in downtown Lake Placid. The third-annual competition, held Saturday, Nov. 30, came at the end of “Movember,” a yearly event designed to raise awareness of men’s health issues.
This year’s competition was hosted in partnership with Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides health services for men and women.
The bar hosted a 50/50 raffle that night to raise money for PP, according to Lisa G’s general manager Megan Baker. Peter Torrance won the raffle and donated his winnings back to PP, shuttling a total of $582 to the organization.
Livinggoods, a Peru-based brewery, also took over six taps at the bar. One dollar from every pint sold went toward PP.
“You’ve got a beard and you’re wearing a flannel shirt. You’re perfect for this!”
The voice of Jason McComber, owner of Fitness Revolution, boomed above the din of conversation at the bar.
Microphone in hand, he rallied a cavalcade of men to a sign-in sheet on the judges’ table.
Some competitors came sporting beards the size of a volleyball. Others had just a mustache, and some, no beard at all. That may have had something to do with the prize for entry: A free pint.
The judges’ panel included four women this year: Jan Vize, Aimee Goddeau, Ashleigh Macey-Castonguay and Diana Friedlander.
Friedlander, of Lake Placid, has been a judge for the Beer and Beards competition for the last three years.
It’s a role she enjoys.
“I love judging people,” she joked.
The most popular type of beard she’s seen throughout the years, by far, is what she calls the “Adirondack” style — a full, rounded beard similar to “what a lumberjack would have,” she said.
But the most memorable beard Friedlander has seen belonged to Lowell Wurster, a percussionist in the Plattsburgh-based funk troupe Lucid and host of “The Lowell Show,” a music podcast produced by North Volume Media.
Wurster’s beard was full and long, she said.
“It went down to his stomach,” Friedlander said. “It looked like he was in ZZ Top.”
She said women are a natural fit to judge a beard competition.
“Because we don’t have them,” she said.
She paused, then added: “And because we’re the best at everything.”
When the time for judging came around, McComber called the competitors one by one to the front of the bar.
The bearded men parted the sea of spectators as they strutted from one end of the bar to the next.
“Mathieu Castonguay,” McComber called.
Castonguay curtseyed, bowing his head low and spreading his arms wide before the judges. He presented his blonde beard with a flourish.
Eugene Govern passed through the crowded bar and appeared before the judges with a grin.
“I saved all the hair for my face,” Govern said, removing his beanie in one swift motion and revealing his bald head. The crowd roared with laughter.
One man stepped up to the judge’s table for scrutiny and without a word, brandished a framed photo of himself, which he raised above his head like a wrestling championship belt. The move drew hoots and hollers from spectators.
There were multiple award categories for the competition, but the most contested was “Fan Favorite.”
In an effort to shore up votes, one man sang his rendition of the Backstreet Boys’ 1999 hit “I Want It That Way.” Another offered to buy drinks in exchange for votes. After the judges counted up all the votes, there was just one vote between the first- and second-place competitors.
Castonguay, a local hockey coach, took home that title.
But it was Chase Turner — who sported a full Adirondack beard — that took home the “Best Beard” prize.
Turner accepted his award quietly, with his wife and daughter at his side, as the crowd cheered around him.