GARDINER — Bryce Royal hasn’t shaved in more than five years. Throughout the early afternoon Saturday, person after person walked up to Royal and asked for a picture, and he was happy to oblige.

Royal was one of more than a dozen entrants in the annual Gardiner Beard and Mustache Competition during the city’s eighth Swine & Stein Oktoberfest.

“This is just a freestyle, and it took me a few hours this morning to get it the way I wanted,” said Royal, 38, of Windham. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

The event featured craft beers from a dozen Maine brewers under a big tent, as well as live music, children’s games, a petting zoo, food trucks, dancing and contests. Mayor Thom Harnett said it was great day with weather in the 70s, sun, great music, great food and great beer.

“It’s been a really difficult week, but you have to remember there is joy and happiness and most people are very good people,” he said.

Diana Twombly, one of the organizers from Gardiner Main Street, said there were about 100 volunteers and that they were expecting 1,500 to 2,000 attendees. It’s consistent with the crowds the event has seen in the past few years.

“It’s a fun event to come hang out with family and friends, check out some other facial hair, and there’s lot of good beer,” Royal said. He spent a good portion of his first hour at the event talking with members of the Maine Facial Hair Club.

Zachary LeClair of Lisbon Falls, said he’s been growing his beard for about four years. He said it was itchy at the beginning.

“You just have to get past the first year, because after that, it doesn’t itch anymore,” he said.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

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