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It’s about friends at North American beard and mustache contest in Bremerton

Bruce Roe has grown a beard for most of his life, sometimes to the chagrin of his wife, Tommie. Little did he know that his facial hair would later take him around the world, winning prizes from Nevada to Sweden for his coiffed, hairsprayed mustache.

Now that his whiskers have gained international accolades, his wife doesn’t mind so much.

“She says, ‘A kiss without a tickle isn’t worth a nickel,’” Roe laughed.

Now, the 59-year-old founder of Bremerton’s Whisker Club is bringing the world’s facial hair enthusiasts to Bremerton — for the second time.

Roe is organizing the North American Beard and Moustache Championship, taking place July 3 at the Elks Lodge to benefit the Washington Veterans Home at Retsil. After the 2008 contest, which attracted about 50 competitors from as far away as India, he hopes to bring more follicle fanatics into the fray.

Roe, who said he used to grow a beard every year, first got involved in beard and mustache contests when he met a competitor at a wedding reception who invited him to a world contest in Norway.

“It was so much fun and I met so many wonderful people that it’s kind of been a permanent fixture ever since,” he said.

Since then, he has taken second and third place prizes in five contests around the world with his stiff “Hungarian style” mustache — one that is big and bushy and curled up at the ends, with the help of some 24-hour hold hairspray and a hair dryer. And in 2008 he brought it all home when the Whisker Club held North America’s first continental contest at the Elks Lodge in Bremerton.

Competitors in other categories go to extremes growing and styling beards and mustaches ranging from the “Musketeer” to the “Verdi.” Roe said that friends who compete in freestyle categories mold beards into the shape of a bridge, among other outrageous shapes.

David Alber of Tacoma is another Whisker Club member who competed in Bremerton’s previous North American contest. The 44-year-old finished second for his Hungarian ‘stache - his secret: foam curlers and hair spray — and is contemplating a new style for this year’s contest.

His wife is merely tolerant of the wacky whiskers.

“It kind of gets in the way of kissing,” he said, adding that she does like to help with his costumes for the contests.

Alber has been an active competitor for three years and aspires to go to the world championships someday.

“But that gets kind of pricey,” he said.

The facial hair may be what brings the competitors together from different ends of the Earth, but it’s not the only thing that makes the competitions worthwhile.

“For me it’s mostly about meeting new people,” Alber said.

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