By WILSON RING, Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The man made famous by being "the most interesting man in the world" while pitching Dos Equis beer is lending his expertise with his perfectly groomed facial hair by helping to judge a contest looking for the best beard in Vermont.
Jonathan Goldsmith, whose close-cropped beard was a key part of the image of the cigar-smoking sophisticate, will judge the Best Beardies competition Saturday. It's sponsored by the Vermont chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Last year's competition raised nearly $30,000 for Make-a-Wish Vermont and this year, organizers hope to raise more.
Goldsmith said before the competition that a beard reveals the personality of the man who sports it.
"If it's wild looking, unkempt — that has some statement. If it's immaculately trimmed, it might mean that he keeps a clean desk," said Goldsmith, a Vermont resident who now promotes tequila. "If it's really long, I would say that it's somebody who is his own man and doesn't really care about convention."
Among this year's 20 competitors who have made it to Saturday's finals is Steve Jalbert, 33, of Barre, whose long beard counters his bald pate. He's one of the top fundraisers for the competition. The winners for each category — people's choice, urban, freestyle, backwoods and the ultimate beard — win a plaque, a gift card for beard care products and bragging rights.
He said friends, family and admirers of his beard, which he's been working on for about a year, urged him to enter.
"The biggest thing is you have to have patience. It doesn't grow fast," Jalbert said.
There's a science to ensuring that his beard remains kempt, he said. He washes it several times a week and he uses oils to keep it tame and looking good.
"Most people have a good thing to say about a guy with good beard," said Jalbert.
Also judging those goods beards is Bryan Sturge, last year's winner. He still has the beard he grew to honor his daughter who died of cancer in 2013.
Organizers have also drawn the Montana Make-a-Wish organization into the best-beard fray.
Montana, which is holding its finals March 29, is betting bison steaks it can find a better beard in Big Sky Country than the Green Mountain State. Vermont is countering that bet with of maple syrup.