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Scruffy Oklahomans compete to grow world’s greatest beard and win

By Danniel Parker


This month two Oklahomans squared off against a world of competition as they vied for the gold… Except these guys aren’t competitive athletes, they aren’t beauty contestants, Nobel peace prize nominees or aspiring poet-laureates.

Nope, these guys just hate having to shave. It’s serious business and they are extremely good at it, world class even.

On Feb 19 in Austin TX, Devon Holcombe and Travis Nance represented Oklahoma at the 5th Annual Misprint Magazine Beard And Mustache Competition. The contest featured the patron saint of the long-bearded, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.

Devon won 2nd place in the Sweetest Stache category for his Salvador Dali influenced wax-tipped mustache, with hairy appendages that reach above his eyebrows and below his chin.

Nance entered the competition, but his burly 1800’s-style beard failed to place.

“The World Beard and Mustache Championships, we follow it very seriously,” said Nance. “Germany started it in the 70’s and the US entered the circuit in 95, lead by Beard Team USA captain Phil Olsen. Now both of us are part of Beard Team USA.”

According to Olsen, the only things the Beard Team doesn’t test for is drugs and gender.

On the same day, Devon’s twin brother Sam Holcombe’s English Handlebar mustache won at Beard Team USA’s Southeastern Regional’s in Charleston N. Carolina.

“I’ve been growing my ‘stache since June 11th 2009. With a mustache like this I say you have to be a nice person, because people will definitively remember you,” said Devon.

“My brother and I have always had facial hair, but we never grew anything out,” Devon said. “Then we saw the World Beard and Mustache Championships on, like ESPN 3 and we started keeping track of it like a sport.”

The Holcombe twins didn’t know their moustaches were on their way to literally becoming the second and third best moustaches on the planet.

In 2009 Devon won silver at the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Anchorage Alaska, in the best freestyle moustache category. The trophy they presented him was a gold mining pan the size of a cereal bowl, but it trumped his brother Sam’s high-ball glass sized pan they gave him for 3rd place, he said.

Later he won the look alike competition at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg Fl.

Now Holcombe runs the Norman Beard Club.

Though Nance didn’t place in Austin, and he’s not a world champion, he is the proud patriarch of the local beard community. Nance is the founder and fearless leader of the OKC Beard Club.

It might sound silly to some, but to Nance, his beard club is a statement against modern social standards that are just plain wrong.

“I had a job interview several years ago. I had a short-cropped beard. They said they expect me to be clean-shaven all the time. I said well then no, I won’t work here,” said Nance.

“The idea that there is only one way to be professional, to be manly, that the GQ look being the only way you should look as a man? That’s all horse crap,” said Nance.

“You’re not going to see an effete model splitting logs and building something with his hands. There is nothing wrong with being clean shaven, but the idea you have to do that to be a complete person is outrageous,” he said.

So Nance started growing out his beard, and a lot of his follicle friends joined that endeavor.

Now the OKC Beard Club holds monthly meetings at the Speakeasy bar on 1114 Northwest 51st St.

“We’re bringing the beard back into respectability,” said Nance.

He said that growing an epic beard is not moving back three steps to take first step forward; it’s about making a decision and sticking with it. It’s a level of consistency and reliability in a time when fashions are following the latest fads.

On April 16, during the Steam Punk Expo at the Clarion Convention Center on  6200 N. Robinson, Nance is holding the first annual Oklahoma Beard and Mustache Competition.

The Steam Punk Expo is a science fiction and cultural convention for people interested in Jules Verne style fiction, girls in corsets and men in Bowler hats, he said.

“I’ve got several categories, for mustaches, full beards, partial beards and even fake beards. I’ve got some local craftsmen making some really cool awards for it,” said Nance.

The beard club can be reached on the Internet at

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