WBMC: Portland at center of global beard feud

What's in a name? Boycott planned for 'World Beard and Moustache Championships'

This man, a participant in the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Portland, sometimes stand on his head to sculpt his beard. Oct. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
This man, a participant in the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Portland, sometimes stand on his head to sculpt his beard. Oct. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Things are about to get very hairy in Portland.

That’s because “The World Beard and Moustache Championships” is setting up shop at downtown’s Keller Auditorium Saturday, and with it, an international controversy.

The drama stems from the competition’s name itself and its inherent claim of world championship. A German group — of the same name and formed years before the one about to crown new winners in Portland — considers Saturday’s event a sham.

WATCH: Last year’s event in Germany

They’re not the only ones. Eighty-five facial hair clubs — including one from Portland — are boycotting the stateside tournament, according to We Support the True WBMC, Not the Portland Event. The Facebook page claims the Portland event is an “illegitimate” facial hair championship that’ll cause confusion and steal titles from worthy champions.

Jack Passion, left, and Elmar Weisser, right, have each taken home awards from "The World Beard and Moustache Championships" in past years. (worldbeardchampionships.com)
Jack Passion, left, and Elmar Weisser, right, have each taken home awards from “The World Beard and Moustache Championships” in past years. (worldbeardchampionships.com)

“Some say it’s just facial hair, but on the other hand, when you compete – you compete,” said Aarne Bielefeldt, who was the world champion in full beard freestyle.

Bielefeldt added the organizer of the Portland event secretly trademarked the world beard and mustache competition name and is trying to take control of the event.

However, Phil Olsen, the event’s organizer and self-appointed captain of Beard Team USA, claims he only created the US-based championship after a philosophical disagreement and trademarked the event name in 2012 through the US Patent and Trademark Office.

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The dispute may ultimately cost organizers, which is charging $10 general admission and $40 to participate, though that remains to be seen.

What is for certain is there will be 18 awards given to some of the best beards seen this side of Berlin.

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