Mike Bahny was a winner before he even stepped up to have judges consider his mustache at the Benton Franklin Fair on Saturday.
Not that the Richland resident wasn't deserving of the title Best Freestyle Mustache in the fair's first mustache competition, even if he was the only entrant in the category.
Bahny said his take on the Van Dyke, with carefully curled hairs on his lip, is the fruition of nearly a year's worth of care.
"I have to use glue every other day and wax every other day," he said.
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Only six people entered the mustache competition, an offshoot of the fairly recent addition of a tattoo contest at the fair. But officials and participants said both are a good way to draw people to the fair who maybe otherwise wouldn't come.
"Everyone thinks fairs are just rodeos and western music and they're not," said fair board member Haley Meredith.
The mustache and tattoo competitions may have only drawn a little more than a dozen participants, but they still filled the bleachers of the Inland Stage at the fairgrounds with spectators.
And just as there were multiple categories for people to enter their tattoos, there were a few for mustaches too.
"Freestyle" meant you had used product to sculpt your mustache.
"Natural" mustaches could be styled but without any product.
Even the facial hair-impaired could enter with the "mock-stache" category. Rodeo Princess Courtney Brown won that award with a stick-on mustache.
Meredith said the competitions are an opportunity to offer something different to fairgoers and capitalize on a trend of men sporting facial hair.
Bahny said he started growing his mustache last year as part of "no shave November," a social trend where men avoid shaving for a month. He's let it go from there and said he's glad he and other men are keeping their facial hair.
"I like to think we're trying to bring back some masculinity," he said. "It's very distinguishing."
Pasco resident Andrew Lidey won the "natural" category. He had to shave off his accompanying beard, as required by the contest rules.
"I made that sacrifice to win the competition," he said.
Lidey said it was worth it but he'll be growing the beard back. The competition's judges told him they plan to have a beard category next year.
-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver