Assessing a winning set of whiskers

Hops on Harbour Beer Festival beard and facial hair competition judge Damian Roche, of Ipswich,...
Hops on Harbour Beer Festival beard and facial hair competition judge Damian Roche, of Ipswich, Queensland, ponders the competition ahead of judging on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
Someone with the nickname the "Paramedic Barber" sounds better suited to the world of professional wrestling than making an appearance at an Oamaru beer festival.

Australian Damian Roche winged his way over from Ipswich, Queensland, to judge the beard and facial hair competition at the inaugural Hops on Harbour Beer Festival in Harbour St on Saturday.

An experienced judge with a fine beard to boot, he works full-time as a paramedic and does barbering on the side.

A friend of Hops on Harbour organiser and Criterion Hotel owner Sue Cameron-Duncan, Mr Roche jumped at the chance to visit Oamaru and critique some facial hair.

He said he looked for several key elements when assessing a beard.

"I like structure in a beard, volume and someone who cares for their beard.

"I've been judging for a while now, so I know what to look for. I like a beard that's clean and tidy and always looks glorious."

He was happy to offer advice to those who already had a full beard, or had one on the way.

Mr Roche, who has been growing his beard for three years, said that too much heat when blow- drying was not good for a beard, while using specific products when washing it was always a winner.

"A lot of people don't wash their beard with a beard-specific product ... beard oil and balm is something I would like to see used more regularly."

About 500 tickets were sold for the festival, a fundraiser for the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust that attracted 11 brewers, two wineries and whisky distilleries from Oamaru and beyond.

Mrs Cameron-Duncan said the day went well and she was excited about the potential for next year's edition.

"It's been really good. There were no hiccups so it's been awesome ... it will be bigger and better next year."


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