Fourth annual Circus of Whiskers promises beards a'plenty — and all for a good cause

Photo by Eric Perry

Brad Petrinec competed in his first facial hair competition in Somerville, Massachusetts six years ago. At the time, Petrinec rocked a full beard and took in first place for his freestyle facial creation. As Detroit's premiere facial hair celebration, Circus of Whiskers enters its fourth year, and circus founder Petrinec says the circus itself is hairier than ever.

"I have a handlebar mustache these days," he says. "I just won first place at nationals in Richmond, VA, in the Dali category, making me the national Dali mustache champion."

Petrinec travels all over the country showing off his stache, usually for charity.
After starting a similar event in Worcester, Mass., he brought the idea of a facial hair showcase to Michigan once he moved back. Shortly after his move, he started a beard club (Murder City Facial Hair Crew) and launched Circus of Whiskers.

In addition to the main event, this year's circus will also host custom carnival games, burlesque performances, and a sideshow act all of which will benefit the no-kill, non-profit organization Detroit Animal Welfare Group.

"I love animals and had volunteered with D.A.W.G. in the past through my sister-in-law's parents, so there was never a question on where the money from the circus should go."

The competition includes 14 categories including natural mustache, styled mustache, goatee, mutton chops, fake beard (both realistic and creative for those lacking) and four different natural full beard categories depending on its length. As with any competition, there are rules. Strict rules. For example, to be eligible for the natural mustache category, one must not style it. Like, at all. In fact, only the hairs growing from within 1.5 cm past the end of the upper lip may be grown out. As for mutton chops? It must be a true sideburn, meaning, with no natural or shaven gap below the ear. Though Petrinec reminds that world of facial hair competition is serious business, it can be a lot of fun. And, unsurprisingly, there is a lot of room for growth.

"Our event is forever growing and changing from feedback that we receive after each year passes and new ideas that we come up with."

Circus of Whiskers will take place on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. at Tangent Gallery; 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit;; Tickets are $20.

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