Like many things having to do with the World Beard and Moustache Championships, the history of the event is shrouded in controversy. The Italian delegation claims that the first championships took place in Northern Italy in the early 1970′s, but today’s affair is directly traceable to an event organized in 1990 and hosted by the First Höfener Beard Club (1. Höfener Bartclub) in its hometown Höfen/Enz, Germany, a small village in the Black Forest. In 1995, the same club hosted the second World Beard and Moustache Championships in the nearby city of Pforzheim.
Since 1995, the championships have been held every two years. In 1997, the championships moved to Trondheim, Norway, where they were organized by the Norwegian Moustache Club (Den Norske Mustaschklubben), headquartered in Trondheim. The Swedish Moustache Club (Svenska Mustaschklubben) followed in 1999, organizing the championships in Ystad, at the extreme southern end of Sweden.
The championships returned to Germany in March, 2001, when the Swabian Beard and Moustache Club (Schwäbische Bart- und Schnauzerclub) celebrated its tenth anniversary by hosting the championships in its hometown of Schömberg.
Carson City, NV
In 2003, the worlds moved outside of Europe for the first time, to Carson City, Nevada. Approximately 85 Europeans showed their stuff to a crowd of enthused and amazed Americans along with the worldwide press. Berlin’s Karl-Heinz Hille was crowned grand champion and representatives of German beard clubs won 36 of the 57 trophies awarded.
The First Berliner Beard Club (1. Berliner Bartclub) hosted the 2005 WBMC. Germany continued its domination, taking fourteen of the seventeen first-place awards. German Elmar Weisser took first place in the full beard freestyle division with a hirsute rendition of the host city’s historic Brandenburg Gate.
In 2007 London’s world famous Handlebar Club played host to the championships in the seaside town of Brighton. The championships drew a sell out crowd while hundreds of facial-hair fans stood outside begging for tickets. This time Weisser’s beard commemorated London’s Tower Bridge. Upstart Beard Team USA took five first-place trophies but Germany continued its domination with nine golds in all.
The United States became the world’s new facial hair super power, capturing twelve world championship titles out of eighteen categories plus overall at the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Anchorage, Alaska on May 23, 2009. Possessing home field advantage, the USA was able to dethrone Germany which had dominated this competition since its inception.
Hometown favorite and Beard Team USA member David Traver was crowned overall champ, having styled his beard to resemble an Alaska snowshoe which earned him top honors in the freestle full beard category. Meanwhile Germany’s Karl-Heinz Hille’s elaborate moustache earned him second. San Franciscan Jack Passion placed third with his long, red natural beard. The winners took home engraved gold pans.
The competition returned to Norway on May 15, 2011. This time, Germany beat out the USA by a single gold medal.
The contestants helped celebrate the Seventeenth of May, Norway’s national holiday with a festive parade through the streets of Trondheim.