by Kirby LindsayWell, voting has closed, but the fun won’t conclude until the Beard And ‘Stache Fest wraps with a blowout party on Sunday, March 6th, at Nectar Lounge. The odd-sounding celebration of facial hair has a serious purpose well beyond encouraging whisker-pride – as a month-long fundraiser for Treehouse.
What the Heck?
Outrageous? That’s kind of the point. “Originally we were looking for a way that we could throw a fun, quirky fundraiser,” explained Amy Faulkner. The first Beard & ‘Stache Fest, in 2009, succeeded so well that the organizers created a non-profit, The World Is Fun, entirely run on volunteer efforts, including those of Faulkner, who serves as Executive Director.
The World Is Fun has as its mission, “to get people in their twenties and thirties involved in the community,” according to Faulkner. Most of its annual events involve organizing volunteers to pitch in at fundraisers such as Hop Scotch and Fremont Oktoberfest. They also organize bingo and trivia events, and in May, they’ll participate in Bake for Hope, a bake sale to benefit the Komen Foundation.
While the Fest is a fundraiser, it depends in almost every way on social interaction. The 95 ‘contestants’ for 2011 attended a one-day photo shoot, with photographer Mike Folden (check out the amazing results on the website.) The Fest launched with a party at Blue C Sushi, and an unveiling of the cans. Each can has a picture of a contestant, and ‘voters’ cast their ballot by placing money in their favorite.
After the party, ‘teams’ of five cans were distributed to 19 area bars. On March 6th, the winners will be announced – these are the contestants who earned the most money, as well as the team that raised the most overall. Last year, Faulkner reported, the Fest raised approximately $3,000 “in pocket change.”
Many of the pictures will gain fans among the otherwise unaware, but Faulkner acknowledged that winners are generally those who encouraged friends and family to bring in their penny jars, or ‘vote’ (donate) on-line. Contestants, and the Fest organizers, depend upon social media, word-of-mouth and blogging to promote the cause, their participating and the Fest’s varied gatherings (for the bearded, and the follicular-challenged) throughout February.
In its third year, Faulkner admitted, “we do have men who grow [facial hair] all year,” just to take part. Anyone interested in participating in 2012, can find out more, register, by e-mail.
In Aid Of A Heck Of A Good Cause
As for the closing ceremony and awards celebration at Nectar, The World Is Fun has, well, a fun evening planned. The Bearded Rhythm will perform vintage jazz music for entertainment, and dancing, and there will be a Bearded Lady competition.
Hold on – a Bearded Lady competition? “We were kind of shocked ourselves,” admitted Faulkner about a new addition last year. They invited females to sport ‘facial hair’ and compete for prizes. They got a good number of participants with fake hair or hair extension beards, but they also got some with beards of Gummy Bears and braided green onions…
Finally, while the party will be free to attend, donations will be sought at the door. If enough people pay enough moolah, one of the generously bearded gentleman has agreed to give the evening his all. If door donations exceed $500, attendees may see a grown man cry as he voluntarily gets shaved on-stage!
The money, however, goes to an outstanding cause in Treehouse. “We’re able to donate 100% of the voting funds,” Faulkner explained, to the non-profit known for filling the gaps for foster kids – and foster parents – with school supplies, clothes, summer camps and money for extra-curricular activities and instrument rentals.
Yet, as much as The World Is Fun organizers hope to present an outrageously big check to Treehouse at Nectar, “I think that one of the most important things we get out of it,” explained Faulkner, “is the awareness of what Treehouse is about. We want this audience to know about the work of Treehouse.”
So, come for music, mayhem and to meet the real, and the ingeniously crafted, competitors. Know it all goes to a good cause, builds awareness even among those of us who may not get all that excited about facial hair…for, after all, what could be more Fremont?
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.