The man who once pitched Dos Equis beer as the "most interesting man in the world" turned his attention from his favorite beer to his favorite beard by judging a Saturday competition called Vermont Beardies. Jonathan Goldsmith, who lives in Manchester and sports a closely cropped white beard that he maintains with a lice comb given to him by a veterinarian, was one of four judges who chose the contest's winner. This year's honors went to Bryan Sturge, who hasn't cut his beard in almost two years. The event benefits Make-a-Wish Vermont, and organizers said Saturday they'd raised nearly $30,000. The competition was judged in three categories: urban beard, freestyle, and backwoods. Each contestant also had to tell an interesting story about his beard. Out of more than 100 original entrants, the top 30 were invited to the in-person finals.
Sturge entered the backwoods competition as a tribute to his 11-year-old daughter Zoey, who died of cancer in 2013 before her Make-a-Wish request to go to Disney World and swim with dolphins could be granted. When Zoey was sick, Sturge promised Zoey he wouldn't shave until she got better. He said he entered the contest to give back to Make-a-Wish so that other kids could be granted wishes that Zoey never got to experience. Goldsmith tells the AP there are a few things he's looking for in a winning beard. "The character of the beard, how it brings forth something indigenous to the individual, something personal." While the contest's premise is humorous, the reason for it can be heart-wrenching. "It's a promise that we made. It's love. It's a memory. It's how she last saw me, with a beard," Sturge says. "I offered to shave for her so she could see me without it. She said 'no, that's not the deal.'" (Read more Most Interesting Man in the World stories.)