Sweet ‘stache! Brooklynites compete in Walt Whitman beard contest

Smiles: Participants in the Walt Whitman Beard & Moustache Competition smile in Fort Greene Park on Saturday.
Brooklyn Paper
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It was a hairy situation!

Follically gifted New Yorkers went chin to chin at Fort Greene Park for the Walt Whitman Beard and Mustache Competition on June 8.

Part of a series of events hosted by the Brooklyn Public Library, the contest was meant to celebrate the 200th birthday of the legendary Brooklyn bard, who moonlighted as a staunch beard-proponent.

“The beard is a great sanitary protection to the throat — for purposes of health it should always be worn, just as much as the hair of the head should be,” Whitman once said.

Heading the advice of the famed Brooklyn wordsmith, unshaven competitors flocked to the Fort Greene playground to compete in eight facial hair-related categories, judged by professional comedians Sue Smith, Jordan Temple, and Murf Meyer.

The event’s marquee honor, the Good Gray Poet award for best in show, was bestowed to Nayland Blake for his Whitman-esque whiskers.

“It was very exciting,” he said. “I felt like I was doing some honor to Whitman’s legacy.”

Blake, who had originally entered the competition for ‘Best Natural Beard’ before taking home the event’s top honor as consolation, said he had been training for this moment for years.

“I’ve had a beard for most of my adult life, but the last time I trimmed this particular iteration was about six years ago,” he said.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at
Updated 7:59 am, June 18, 2019
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