When Robert Gonzalez was announced as the winner of the Best Salt-and-Pepper Beard, men hugged him and women kissed him.
"I won this sucker," he exclaimed, holding his plaque in the air with one hand and shaking his staff in the other. "I'm so thrilled."
He joined 25 other bearded fellows to capture the Most Bearded Community Award for Storey County, just edging out Carson City with 24 participants.
For the past 11 years, the Nevada Day Parade has culminated in a beard contest on the Capitol steps, where honors are bestowed in categories including: Longest, Blackest, Whitest, Reddest, Scruffiest, Best Groomed, Fullest, Best Salt-and-Pepper and Most Bearded Community.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Becker and Justice Ron Parraguirre, both native Nevadans, determined the winners.
"I do it because it's fun," Becker said. "It's one of those events that makes Nevada unique."
Virginia City's John Bartlett, better known as Hippie John who tied for third for longest beard, has won the scruffiest beard in the past, but not this year.
That award went, instead, to Lamar Baxla, "Bax," also of Virginia City.
"Your damn right I'm proud," he said. "It's an honor to represent Virginia City, the most-bearded community in Nevada."
However, Hippie John seemed to have maintained the unofficial most-often-needs-help-standing award - which may have been the most difficult honor to procure, as sobriety was lacking amongst most participants, as well as viewers.
Karl Hinkfuss traveled from Chicago to visit his friend Ryan Thorne, who moved to Dayton in 2004 to work on the freeway. Thorne convinced Hinkfuss to check out the beard contest.
"It's awesome," Hinkfuss said. "I heard about this and I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
Contestants lined up on the Capitol steps, waiting for the judges to determine the winner.
Perhaps the easiest contest to determine was Longest Beard. The crowd selected the winner even before the official measurement.
"Sikh, Sikh, Sikh," they chanted in unison.
The honor did indeed go to the Sikh, Gurdeep Singh, whose beard measured a whopping 37 inches.
- Contact reporter Teri Vance at email@example.com or 881-1272.
Results of the 2005 Nevada Day Beard Contest are listed in order from first to third places:
Gurdeep Singh, 37 inches
Keith Alltizer, 17 inches
Bill Migan and Hippie John Bartlett (tie), 15 inches
Kulwant Singh Mand
Jasbir Singh Sandhj
Lamar Baxla, "Bax"
Best Salt and Pepper:
Storey County, 26
Carson City, 24
Douglas County, 4
Washoe County, 3
Tahoe City, 2
Lyon County, 1
Churchill County, 1