EASTON — You could bet your whiskers there were some bushy beards on parade Friday night, Jan. 17, at the Historical Society of Talbot County.

Twenty-two of the area’s most manly men had risen to the challenge of the Cover Your Chin Contest and were ready to square off in front of the judges.

The Cover Your Chin Contest for Charity is the brainchild of Joel Shilliday, Andrew Southworth and Adam Theeke, who were discussing their beards casually one day while watching their kids play field hockey.

Before long, they began to talk about a shave-off. Then there were some text messages and the contest seem to emerge with a life of its own.

The three had lots of friends with beards who had lots of friends with beards, and so on and so on, ranging from the truly serious to the occasional, and they too joined the shave-off.

The 22 contestants each submitted a clean-shaven picture of themselves, dated Nov. 18, and paid a $15 entry fee. Part of the contest was to find as many sponsorships as possible.

Eight weeks later, Friday night, the group came together to be judged on their beards.

Contestants could choose which charity their efforts would benefit. The list included Kids with Cancer, Shore Kids Camp, Waterfowl Chesapeake and the Chesapeake Children’s Theatre.

There were full beards and partially full beards. Only two contestants modeled partial beards, with the winner being Joel Shilliday.

Ryan Finch, sporting a bushy dark brown beard and head full of hair, paraded for the judges in a bathrobe. He was the first-place-winner, garnering an Out of the Fire Restaurant $50 Gift Card and a bottle of exclusive dark rum from the Lyon Distilling Company in St. Michaels.

Second place went to Greg Radcliffe, whose jet-black beard rivaled those of the ancient Hebrews.

Third place was a tie between Jeremy Joseph, whose thick, dark, wavy beard had a touch of light, and Will Chapman, whose red Nordic whiskers spoke of perhaps a Viking ancestor.

A crowd of more than 100 people packed the Historical Society auditorium rocking to music provided by volunteer DJ Ron Vener during the contest.

Food was provided primarily by Roberto’s Pizza. Judges were Suzy Moore, Maggi Sarfaty, Lindsay Grow, Colleen Brighton and Jim Brighton.

Additional sponsorship was provided by the Washington Street Pub, Out of the Fire, Salisbury Pewter and Gifts, Albright’s Gun Shop, Waterfowl Festival, Due East, Chesapeake Chamber Music, Bridges Land Management, Angry Wives Outfitters, Easton Cycle and Sport, Harris Crab House, Paddle Dog Boards, Diving Dog Promotions, Julia’s Carryout, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Roberto’s Pizza, Rise Up Coffee, the Preppy Redneck, Heather’s Salon and the Lyon Distilling Company.

The contest paused periodically for the reading of raffle numbers. Nineteen prizes, ranging from hunting trips to YMCA memberships, were won by lucky patrons.

As of Friday evening, the event had raised $11,500 for various local charities.

Shilliday, Theeke and Southworth are planning on another contest next year, perhaps extending the beard-growing to three months, adding more charities and doing more promoting.

Follow me on Twitter @chrisp_stardem. Email me at cpolk@stardem.com.

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