Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


November 11, 2012

N-shave November

Local men compete in month-long hairy contest

BLUEFIELD —  Beware ladies, its no-shave November in the two Virginias and the males — hunters, professors, college students, pastors and more — are growing out their beards for the entire month. Things are bound to get rough in some households.

Sarah Wilkerson Erps, a native of Princeton, has learned to live with her husband B.J.’s beard during the month of November.

“He has been going strong for the month of October,” she said. “He already has a full beard.”

Several other men at their church in Huntington are participating in the month-long challenge. But for Erps, her husband takes it further than just November. In their household there is Decembeard, Manuary and Februhairy.

“ ...When he kisses the girls (they have three young daughters) they say, ‘Daddy, stop it. Your beard tickles me and it makes me itch’,” Erps said.

Erps isn’t the only male who takes no-shave November pass Nov. 30.

Seth Angell, of Princeton, wants to keep his beard all winter.

“I’ve always loved growing my beard out and plus, it keeps my face very warm during these cold months,” he said.

The college student said he thinks a beard is a sign of manhood. Since he can grow a full beard, he wants to take advantage of the trend.

But what do his friends and family think?

“Some of my friends get jealous, but others, especially at my church, want me to keep it and let it grow. My family is fine with it. Surprisingly, my girlfriend likes it. However, she’s nervous about how out-of-whack its probably going to get. As long as I trim the mustache and shampoo it daily, I believe it will be just fine,” he said.

Angell is 21-years-old and started participating in no-shave November two years ago. He heard about the challenge from a few friends. At first he thought they had made up the annual tradition.

“But then I realized it’s very popular everywhere. It’s a real cool idea,” Angell said.

Bluefield resident Kody Casey is also trying to commit to the manly challenge.

He thinks men like to show off how much facial hair they can grow in one month. It’s like a contest.

“My friends and family think it’s funny,” he said.

Shane Ellison of Princeton grew his beard out last year, but decided to challenge his friends in a new contest —turn the beard into a mustache for December. None of his friends took him up on the offer, but Ellison didn’t mind.  

“ ... my mustache is what people seem to remember,” he said.

In Athens, faculty members at Concord University are breaking up with their razors in honor of no-shave November. According to David Campbell, the associate professor of health education and chair of the department of human performance, there are three or four men participating in the challenge.

“We start the month clean shaven and by the end of the month, we see who has the best beard,” Campbell said. “We do it every November. There is no great cause ... it is silly game for grown men to play.”

Campbell said there are three levels during no-shave November. The first level is not using a razor on the face or head. The second level is trimming the neck, for a well-manicured look. And the third level? Shaving it off before Dec. 1. Don’t be surprised if you get called a wimp for shaving before the deadline.

Last year, Campbell ended up on level two. His colleague Mike Cox, cross country and track field coach and instructor, won the contest last year.

“I would love to win again,” Cox said. “Its just tricky on how it (the beard) comes back in.”

Like Ellison, part of the ritual includes shaving the beard into other facial hair art forms. There are sideburns, mutton chops, goatees and even a Joe Dirt style for men to consider. And don’t forget the mustache. Cox said you always leave the cheesy mustache at the end.

Campbell said his wife tolerates the extra facial hair. But Cox admitted his wife was not enthusiastic last year, especially since their church pictures fell during the month of November.

It is all fun and games for Cox and company, but come Dec. 1, Campbell is ready to shave.

“This is basically a bunch of Ph.Ds in a beard-growing contest,” he said, laughing.

Kevin Shirey, of Princeton, likes no-shave November for a variety of reasons. The father of three said he can sleep in on Sunday mornings before church and the extra facial hair keeps him warm when he is outside working or hunting.

“The amount of gray in the beard — which is quite a bit — makes me look more mature and more manly, of course,” he added.

Shirey’s oldest daughter Emma loves her daddy’s beard. His other two children are too young to really care. What about his wife Scarlett?

“My wife grew up in a house full of men where beards this time of year were normal,” he said.

The new normal is now no-shave November. With more than three weeks to go, things are bound to get a little hairy in the area.

— Contact Jamie Parsell at


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