by Marcus Leach
If, like myself, you proudly wear a beard there may be the odd occasion that you look in the mirror and think to yourself, 'that is a mighty fine beard'. Or maybe whilst out and about you will spot a fellow beard wearer and, knowing what it takes to grow a fine beard, be able to appreciate another man's facial hair.
And yet bearded gentleman of the world, our own efforts simply pale into insignificance compared to those that have been on show at the 2014 World Beard and Moustache Championships this week in Portland, USA. Now in its twelve year, depending which version of the competition's history you believe, the contest sees a gathering of the world's most incredible beards and moustaches. And with categories ranging from the full natural beard, right the way through to those using aids for novelty effect, you can be sure that there was plenty of facial hair to impress the judges.
The history of the beard championships is not without its controversy. Although official records show the first event was held in 1990 one Italian group claims that it held the first championships in Northern Italy in the early 1970's. However, the official records state that 'modern competitive bearding began with a 1990 event organised and hosted by the First Höfener Beard Club in its hometown Höfener, Germany, a small village in the Black Forest.
This year's event marks a break from the tradition of holding a world championship only biennially, which reflects on the re-emergence of the beard not just in Europe, but the world over. This year's grand winner was Madison Rowley, and I must admit, he sports a mighty fine beard.
And here is a selection of other great beards that were on display.
Not forgetting the amazing moustaches....
Main picture: World Beard Championship
In story pictures courtesy of, and copyright to, Greg Anderson. To see more of Greg's pictures head over to his website.