Carefully groomed men compete for top facial hair honours
More than 100 men, some who have spent hours manicuring their facial hair, will compete this weekend in Norway at an international championship for moustache and beard growth.
"It is definitely an art - a vanity art," said Ole Johan Loekberg, secretary of the Norwegian Moustache Club, which is hosting the bi-annual competition this year.
Based on past performance, American and German challengers are favoured among the 163 contestants from 15 different countries who will compete in a range of categories.
Those sporting moustaches are divided into six groups: natural, English, Dali, Hungarian, imperial and freestyle.
Contestants with a cultivation deemed a "partial beard" will challenge for top honours in the natural, Chinese, Imperial, Musketeer, sideburns, and freestyle categories.
The grizzliest in the contest, those ruled as having "full beards", compete in groups marked natural, natural with styled Moustache, Verdi, Garibaldi and freestyle.
"For some it is a very serious art, especially the Germans who spend hours cultivating their hirsute faces," Loekberg explained.
The top three finishers in each category take prizes. Top overall honours, awarding the best facial hair presentation among all contestants, are slated to be awarded Sunday evening at a hotel in Trondheim in central Norway.
"The competition is not relevant at all, but it makes for lots of fun and beer drinking," Loekbergh explained.
The United States brings the largest delegation with more than 60 contestants.
Other countries represented include Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norward, Liechtenstein, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Holland.
First held in 1990, the competition has taken place every two years since 1995.
The 2009 contest took place in Alaska where Americans, Germans and some Belgians performed strongest.
A European version of the championship was held last year in Salzberg, Austria.
© 2011 AFP