To shake up the northern snow globe a bit, Downtown Petoskey is hosting a Winter Blues Festival during the week of February 15.  And to tide folks over until that fun begins, downtown events coordinator Kathy Bardins said they are kicking things off in true Up North style: the Winter Blues Beard Growing Contest which begins January 8. My North checked the razors at the door and talked to Bardin about the ins and outs of this facial affair.

My North: How, exactly, did the idea of a beard-growing contest take shape? And how does it tie into the Blues Festival?

Kathy Bardins: We developed the idea of the beard-growing contest from old pictures of the same contest in Petoskey’s history. It ties in with the Winter Blues Festival because this time of year, many men grow beards to protect their faces from the cold. Also, Winter Blues Festival is designed to be a fun, funky series of events, and the beard-growing contest fits right in.

MyNorth: In addition to the face-warming action, there are other benefits—in the form of helping others—for those joining this challenge, correct?

Kathy Bardins: Yes, we are encouraging participants to take a pledge form created for us by the American Cancer Society to raise money for breast cancer awareness. We have all kinds of fun ways to raise money – for example, contact your barber or hairdresser – they won’t see you for 5 weeks! Put pictures of yourself on Facebook and have friends vote on when your beard looks good. No entrant has to raise money, but it will be a good cause to support if you wish.

MyNorth: Any tips or secret vitamin hints for fast facial hair growth? And will there be consolation prizes for, say, the funniest looking beard?

Kathy Bardins: We are discouraging the use of Rogaine or Nioxin for fast growing facial hair growth, we want it to be fair. But prize-wise, our 3rd place winner will be for the "I tried, but didn’t succeed" beard.Prizes are 1st prize – best or longest beard – overnight stay at the Perry Hotel with breakfast included, plus a mini male makeover of a facial, shave and haircut from one of three salons: Trillium Salon, La Dolce Vita Salon and Tracy Lee Salon. 2nd Prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Mitchell Street Pub and the mini male makeover; and 3rd prize is the mini male makeover. All prizes total more than $100.

MyNorth: How do people enter the contest?

Kathy Bardins: Men, 18 or over, must appear at the Petoskey Downtown Offices at 216 Park Avenue on Friday, January 8, between 10am and 6pm, clean shaven. They can fill out an entry form (or download one at, click on Winter Blues Festival). Their picture will be taken at that time (and beards will need to continue growing until February 18 at 6 p.m., when final judging will take place).