Beards! Do I have your attention? The Great American Fierce Beard Organization (GAFBO) certainly has mine. Beard proms and various facial hair competitions are only a small part of what the GAFBO brings to our state. Not only are these members busy making the world a better place with their extravagant facial hair, but the purpose behind these wonderful beard events is usually to raise money for a charity event that is near and dear to the hearts of GAFBO members.
The GAFBO started in 2002 in East Lansing with five members who had intentions of growing fantastical beards from November until St. Patrick’s Day. Then it was time for the voting to begin; which member had the best beard? Life for the members of GAFBO continued this way for about two years, until a member was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After that, keeping the beards became a way of raising money for cancer; having people donate money to encourage those that were bearded not to shave.
Now, the GAFBO operates to raise money for whatever charity its members vote upon. These charities are chosen when a member feels a particular connection to it, who then explains why it would be a great organization for the GAFBO to support, where it is then put to a vote. Facial hair is not a requirement to join the Great American Fierce Beard Organization. Membership is available for all those who express an interest in joining. Meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month in various places around East Lansing.
Memorable events include The Motor City Beard and Mustache Competition, held in Hamtramck in April 2011. Around 400 beard lovers attended to celebrate and share their appreciation for awesome facial hair. Beard competitions are not limited only to those who are able to grow natural beards. Fake beards are welcome as well, and many ladies and children sport them for various competitive events. In August 2011, there was a fake beard competition at the Lansing CIty Market that allowed for quite a bit of creativity. According to the GAFBO’s president, John Buckler, those who participate in competitions are always eager to come back for more. Everyone is welcome to participate or just come to watch.
While speaking with Buckler, I was curious about which event was a favorite, to which he replied, “Beard Prom 2012 was probably a GAFBO favorite, as it was outlandish, fun, full of great people, and great dancing.” This event was to raise money for the Potter Park Zoo. Rumor has it that Beard Prom is even better than a high school prom. The GAFBO has also adopted a piece of M127 from the Michigan Department of Transportation. They can be seen picking up trash alongside the road and keeping our highways clean. Without a doubt, events and volunteer opportunities vary greatly. There is something to do for anyone who expresses an interest.
Coming up on May 10th is the Mustache Masquerade which will be raising money for Making Smiles for Hope. The lovely members of the GAFBO organization will most certainly be in attendance. The next GAFBO hosted event is “Beards in Space” which is a beard friendly, adult prom. “Beards in Space” will be raising money to benefit the Kids Repair Program which is a fantastic program that allows kids ages 9-17 to tear apart bicycles and rebuild them, learning all the ins and outs of bicycle maintenance and safety as they go. More information on this event and other upcoming events can be found on the GAFBO’s website and Twitter page. Plus, there is a photo gallery of beards, so how could you resist checking out their various sites?