Behind every good beard is ...

You can rub beer in it, or tomato sauce or fertiliser, or even season it with salt and pepper, but the only way a man will truly grow a decent beard is if he has asked for permission.

As part of the Arrowtown 150 celebrations on Labour Day, more than 30 men lined up and allowed their beards to be stroked and pulled as part of judging the 10-week competition.

Those on stage attributed their hair growth to a good feed, or the right amount of alcohol, but those who were honest enough to admit it said they only participated because their wives allowed it.

Arrowtown resident and former city councillor Taylor Reed has entered the competition several times over the years, including the 1962 100 Years of Gold celebrations.

Today, however, he is likely to be clean-shaven because the wife says so.

"The wife gave me an ultimatum; the beard or me. She won."

"I got sick of straining the Speight's through it. Anyhow, it takes all the goodness out of the beer."

Awards were given out in categories for the best overall beard, longest, thickest, most original, best salt and pepper, best effort, best moustache and even best female ... Yes there was one.

Keith Stirling, of Arrowtown, was the winner of the best overall beard, sporting a giant silver beard in front of a home crowd of 200.

There was one common denominator among the gentlemen of excess hair and it was the blatant and usually unimpressed reactions from their partners.

"The wife doesn't kiss me anymore", "I think Joy will be happy for it to come off", and "Women tell me I suit it; it's quite good for the ego" were among comments from the contestants.

Organiser Dave Clark said growing the perfect beard took its toll and all females should be aware of the effort.

John Richards' facial growth was awarded the heavily contested "best beard" at the Glenorchy competition, and he will not be shaving it off anytime soon.

On July 1, Mr Richards shaved his 30-year-old beard off for the cause and described the event as "scary" and "horrible".

"It's just back to normal. I've had this all my life."

Other winners included Feral but Friendly: Duayne Insley; Wild and Woolly: Alistair Wallace; Urban Grooming: Willie McBeth; Lady Killer: Mark Hasselman; Father Christmas: Ian Kirkland.