Bearding: Wagons West Beard Contest


This past Saturday marked the 30th Annual Wagons West Celebration at the Trails and Rails Museum in Kearney, NE.  This was my 2nd year attending, as it was the 2nd year for their annual beard contest.

Wagons West is a free event that celebrates Nebraska’s history in western expansion and settlement.  It features a wide variety of activities; live music, food, exhibitors, demonstrators, archive researchers, kids’ games, and contests.  It is held at the Trails & Rails Museum, an open air museum featuring period buildings & artifacts like a Union Pacific Depot, locomotive, chuch, hotel, cabin, school, fire engine, and more.


The 2nd Annual Beard Contest started at 11am, I always arrive early to allow time to get registered and look around at the museum.  There were lots of volunteers doing demonstrations, local artists & craftsmen peddling their wares, singing & dancing, and visitors mulling around taking in everything the museum grounds had to offer.

At 11 we all gathered in the church for judging and presentation of awards.  There are two categories at the Trails and Rails Beard Contest, Beard Natural and Freestyle.  While this year saw no entries into the freestyle category, there were 5 contestants for beard natural.  Besides myself, I don’t think any contestants from last year made an appearance this year.  Which was kind of a bummer, as I’d like to see the event grow every year, but it’s understandable as Father’s Day weekend (or any summertime weekend) is a very busy time.  But, in all, it was great to see new faces at the beard contest.

2nd Place Beard Natural – Summertime Santa

Trails & Rails encourages costumes, so I wore my ‘Island Arrow’ costume that I wore to my last comic convention.  After I arrived I was worried the pioneer-Old West crowd wouldn’t understand my costume, but I received plenty of compliments and no questions, so I think it went over quite well.  Another fellow ( I think his name was Cliff, I’m terrible with names, though) had a Santa hat and t-shirt to match his Santa-esque full, white beard.  Just awesome.

1st Place Natural – J-Rod Olson

A small crowd had gathered as all the contestants lined up in the front of the church for judging.  The judges took scores and closer looks and made their deliberations before announcing the winners.  I, to my surprise, tied for first place with J-Rod, a Kearney local, tattoo artist & guitar slinger with a seriously massive beard.  It’s an honor to be considered on the same level.  I also took home ‘Best Costume’.

Myself in my Island Arrow costume with J-Rod

Unfortunately I was on my lunch break from work and could not stick around for more of the festivities Wagons West offer.  I had to change, eat lunch and get back to work.  On our way out we ran into my friend Simeon, another bearded gentleman & fellow costumer, who had just gotten off work himself and did not make it in time to participate.  Which was another bummer as he is quite the beardist himself and I would have liked to see how he, and his Apocalyptic Waldo costume, would have fared.

My friend Simeon in his ‘Apocalyptic Waldo’
Myself with my awards

All in all, another fantastic year for the Beard Contest at Trails & Rails.  It was great to meet up with some fellow beardists and enjoy some friendly competition and camaraderie.  It’s always fun to meet up with people with like passions.

Be sure to check out Trails & Rails Museum and keep on the look out for next year’s Wagons West Celebration and Beard Contest!

Check out the gallery below for more pictures from Wagons West

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