70th beards competition


– Photo by Peter Zhu

Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. marked the start of the Michigan Tech Beards Competition. No, this isn’t a trendy hipster sport. In fact, the event dates back to the Winter Carnival of 1947, making this nearly as old as the Stage Revue. The concept is simple. Participants sign up with clean faces two months before the event, and their task is to grow the fullest beard, goatee or sideburns possible. Surprisingly enough, that isn’t enough to satisfy the judges, and those competing also have to demonstrate their acting and fashion skills by performing a skit for the amusement of the crowd.

Guardians of the North, Alpha Gamma Delta and St. Albert the Great managed to gain the judge’s favor in the Men’s, Women’s and Coed competitions respectively. Army ROTC managed to get second place and Eric Witteveen, a fourth year computer network and system administration student, was participating as the beard for his team.

Witteveen said, “When we were coming up with ideas for our skit, our first thought was to do something like a ‘Meme Wars’ where conventional warfare was replaced with war waged by using the dankest memes you could produce against your enemy. That idea eventually led into us focusing on doing a quick review of 2016 and all the memeworthy or otherwise interesting points that came from that year.”

Taking only three days to prepare, Witteveen’s group in particular showcased the creativity and humor inherent in many of the students at Tech. Many students find it hard to create time for extracurricular activities at Tech, but events like the beard competition during Winter Carnival challenge that norm. These events show that students really can participate and encourage others to make time for groups and events they’re interested in.

“Winter Carnival as a whole is a great way for us to branch out and try our hands at something different, to get away from crunching numbers and worrying about grades, and to bond with one another while having fun,” continues Witteveen. “It’s worthwhile to participate because not only do you get to learn something new about the people around you, but you might just learn something you didn’t know about yourself.”

Enjoyment and exploration go hand in hand at Tech. Many students come here for the programs offered, but stay because of the wonderful environment they experience while in school. From skiing to acting, camping to music, or hiking to sculpting, Winter Carnival gives students many opportunities to express themselves and expand their knowledge of the world around them. With snow or without, the Upper Peninsula is a wonderful experience to be shared with friends.