Winter Festival Beerd Derby looking to continue to grow in the future

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Judge Jayda Schultz examines the beard of Ian Litzenberger during the Prince Albert Winter Festival Beerd Derby judging at the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation Hall on Sunday Night.

There were seven champions crowned at the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation Hall on Sunday, and every one of them had the facial hair to prove it.

Judges selected the best beards and mustaches in Prince Albert on the final day of judging at the Prince Albert Winter Festival Beerd Derby.

Beerd Derby chair Doug Erickson said that the event was a success, and plans are already underway to make it even better for 2023.

If you talk to any of the contestants out there this year that are here tonight they will tell you it’s the best Beerd Derby competition that there has been in the last 25 years and next year is going to better,” Erickson added.

The winners were Graham Pearson in Amateur Mustache, Ian Litzenberger in Amateur Miscellaneous, Tyler Gerstner in Amateur Bush, Larry Krause in Pro Mustache, Reilly Barton in Professional Miscellaneous, Greg Bowerman in Professional Bush, and Shelby Peters in the Ladies category.

Judging was done by Hannah Thoms and Jayda Schultz of Body Mechanics Salon and Danielle Collins of Hair and Beyond. While the judges tallied their votes there was a performance by Krause.

The Beerd Derby was initially a signature part of the Winter Festival in the late 1960s and early 1970s when it was sponsored by the former Molson brewery in Prince Albert.

When the brewery closed down it basically fizzled out and became kind of a low-key event,” Erickson said. “But believe it or not there are a couple of people here tonight that still continued on with the tradition.”

At its lowest point, Erickson estimates maybe six or seven people participating in the Beerd Derby. This year they had 76 entrants, 45 of which were active. Erickson said they’re looking at making changes to make sure everyone who signs up, shows up.

We are going to change the dynamics a little bit for next year,” he explained. “We are going to be doing pre-registrations and people are going to actually deposit this year for next year. They are going to actually sign up and put a deposit, we are thinking that will make them show up.”

To revive the event Erickson negotiated with Great Western Brewery in Saskatoon to bring life back to the Derby.

They looked back in the history books at what Molson had done years ago and decided that they wanted to be a part of it,” Erickson said. “They wanted to get it back to what it used to be in its heyday.”

During the peak years when the Derby was hosted by Molson there could be up to 300 entries.

We do have a lot of work to organize our sponsorship for next year. We have already got Canadian Tire on board, we have got Original 16 Great Western on board of course, we have got Lake Country Co-op and new now Phantom Light Distillery has signed on as our sponsor for next year,” he said.

After being virtual in 2021 the event was back to its regular self and the contestants have become part of the family,

People have been locked up for two years,” Erickson said. “This is a family, the people that are contestants here they literally consider themselves Beerd Derby family. If there is a family member in need these guys step up to the plate.”

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald
The seven winners of the Prince Albert Winter Festival Beerd Derby pose after udging at the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation Hall on Sunday Night.

We were blessed to have both Malcolm Jenkins from Canadian Tire and Great Western Brewery and the Lake Country Co-op put up some beautiful raffle prizes and these guys sold that raffle out before the show was even started, which has never happened before. They are a family and they are committed to making this a success and having fun,” Erickson said.

The event had a new feature in the live portion with a ladies category for hairiest legs which was born three years ago.

We just had some wives that wanted to come out for the fellowship as well so we created a hairy leg competition just so that the wives can sign up as contestants and then of course COVID hit,” Erickson said. “We were doing our events virtually and we had limited success doing it that way. This year, with not being restricted to doing it virtually, we had a record number of women sign up for the hairy leg competition. I believe it was nine,” he said.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald
Judges Danielle Collins, Jayda Schuultz and Hannah Thoms examined a contestant during the Prince Alberr Winter Festival Beerd Derby judging at the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation Hall on Sunday Night.

The Beerd Derby officially launched pre-registration for next year on Sunday evening. Litzenberger, who manages the Lake County Co-op Liquor Stores in Prince Albert will be joining Erickson as co-chair for next year’s Beerd Derby.

We are going to be working closely to get additional sponsorship for next to make it an even bigger and better show,” Erickson said.

Pre-registration will be open until March 1 and contestants can put down a $20 deposit at either location of Lake Country Liquor Stores. Erickson said that the people in attendance were virtually guaranteed to register again and they will tally the numbers after March 1.

We are targeting for 120 people next year and then we will see where it goes from there,” Erickson said.