Although Norman Fest isn’t until Oct. 12, you may want to put down the clippers and let your beard grow out starting now, for a chance to win a free helicopter ride.
According to Norman Mayor Kenneth Broadway, Norman Fest will hold a Longest Beard Contest, in memory of Mike Collins, whose life was taken during an armed robbery at his store, the Norman General Store, last year.
“Mike had shoulder-length hair and a beard down to his chest,” said Broadway. “He kind of reminded you of Grizzly Adams.”
Broadway said that he visited the store after last year’s Norman Fest, where he encountered Collins along with his wife and son. Collin’s wife asked Broadway what he had planned for next year’s festival and Broadway asked Collins if he would want to be in a contest for the longest beard.
“You’re already winning,” said Broadway, but Collins said he wasn’t interested.
“So I’m going to do the contest in honor of Mike,” said Broadway. “I’ve known Mike for many years.”
Broadway said the TV show “Duck Dynasty” has made long beards popular again.
“Motorcyclists have them and so do farmers and other ordinary folks,” said Broadway. “So ladies, let the men know and men, keep the beards growing. The winner gets a free helicopter ride and a T-shirt.”
Norman will be celebrating its 100th year during this year’s Norman Fest.
Also new to the festival in the field will be a wood carving chainsaw demonstration, by Woodpecker Products of Salisbury. Frankie Tucker and Matt Hatley have been creating wood art for about five years.
“He’s worked with his hands his whole life,” said Tucker about Hatley, the chainsaw sculptor. “We both have.”
To these guys, it’s a hobby on the side. In their spare time, they take their boat around lakes looking for driftwood or search in the woods for old pine knots, so they don’t have to cut down any trees to make art for people.
“All of our materials are recycled,” said Tucker.
He said they travel around two to three times a year, doing demonstrations and selling art. Their prices vary depending on how much time has gone into their work. Currently, Hatley has three sets of scaffolding set up in a man’s backyard and is carving a 30-foot Indian out of a dead tree that has been untouched for some time.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.