HUGE BEARDS: Miles resident Joseph Swalling has pledged to shave his beard once the Back to the Bush Festival ends in September 2021. Picture: Contributed
HUGE BEARDS: Miles resident Joseph Swalling has pledged to shave his beard once the Back to the Bush Festival ends in September 2021. Picture: Contributed

Western Downs town attracts worldwide hairy interest

Despite its cancellation in 2020, the Miles Back to the Bush Festival has been able to strum up national and international interest through a quirky trend.

Lockdown beards have grown in popularity since the pandemic’s inception, with the festival launching the Back to the Bush Beards online competition to provide some much needed levity.

The festival would have hosted its Beard Appreciation Event and Competition as part of its festival, however the impact of coronavirus on Australia led to its cancellation, pushing the event to September 9—12, 2021.

Rather than miss out on the fun of the event all together, organisers launched the online competition, calling on all types of beards, big or small.

Event organiser Emily Beutel said coronavirus brought a strange twist to their festival, with the pandemic creating more interest in their beard competition.

“Even though we’ve welcomed perfectly sculpted 'craft beards' to enter, our entrants so far have been heavily skewed towards the 'big and bushy' and that's probably no surprise with the stay at home year that 2020 was,” Mrs Beutel said

Some of the boisterous categories for the competition include:

  • The Big and Bushy Beard: The ungroomed beard, no styling, no products … just as nature intended!
  • The Craft Beard: Like finely crafted beer, the craft beard takes precision and creativity to achieve a perfectly sculpted freestyle beard.
  • The Faux Beard: For those with beard envy … create your own! Go wild … the possibilities are endless!

Miles resident Joseph Swalling had been looking forward to the festival’s Beard Appreciation Event since last September in his hometown, saying he was going to shave after the festival.

His beard is still going strong, as organisers were hoping Mr Swalling would keep it in strong condition for the competition in September 12.

Entrants from submitted from as far as America and the United Kingdom, with American entrant Brian Totzke bringing not only an impressive beard, but also an impressive title, as the president of Chicago Beardsmen Suburban Chapter.

Representing the UK, Chris Clark from Rugby, England describes his entry as “fine and always well kept”.

While the online Back to the Bush Beards competition is judged by the public in a popular vote, the in-person beard event at the Miles Back to the Bush Festival in September will be judged by an expert panel.

Beard entries and beard voting is open until midnight January 31.