Cumberland Times-News

September 15, 2012

Mountain City celebrates in style

Beard judging part of bicentennial bash featuring Main Street parade

From Staff Reports
Cumberland Times-News

— FROSTBURG — After the pancake breakfast and the parade — but before the big fireworks show — a bunch of bearded men gathered Saturday afternoon to see who wore their whiskers best.

More than 100 contestants entered the Brothers of the Brush contest as part of Frostburg’s bicentennial birthday bash, said organizer Oger Lewis, but just several dozen gathered at Bar Monkey on Main Street for the official judging as the day’s activities winded down.

“We’ve got some guys coming off the street, which is cool — this isn’t like a sanctioned thing,” said Lewis, whose gigantic, homegrown, purple-and-green-spray-painted beard would seem to have been a prime contender.

“I disqualified myself,” said Lewis, adding that beards were scored on a 1 to 10 scale in five categories: natural, groomed, mange, longest and freestyle. The contest was loosely based on a similar contest held during Frostburg’s 150th birthday celebration in 1962, Lewis said.

“I just talked to some guys who were in that one, and they said that the Monday after Easter they quit shaving, and the contest was judged in July,” Lewis said.

Rules weren’t quite as rigid this time. Top prize was $20 cash, a beer and a purple beer koozie that says: “Ask Me About the Brothers of the Brush 2012.”

Hundreds lined Main Street Saturday morning for a nearly two-hour-long parade to celebrate the 200th birthday of the Mountain City, founded in 1812 by Meshach and Cathy Frost. Businesses across town participated in the Blast from the Past trivia contest, including Harvey’s Greenhouse on East Main Street.

“We just had a couple come in, actually, they were traveling through on the bike trail, and the came here to stay the day,” said Penny Price, who has owned the business since 1983. “They heard that Kathy Mattea was playing tonight, and that was their drawing card for Frostburg. They came in, spent some time with us, couldn’t get over the quaintness of Frostburg, was quite taken back by it.”

Plenty of visitors also stopped by Failinger’s Hotel Gunter to get a glimpse of Frostburg’s past, said Ryan McKenzie, front desk manager. The hotel, which opened on New Year’s Day in 1897, features museum-like exhibits including an old jail cell and an antique doll collection.

“This is kind of the typical kitchen from around the turn of the century, something like that,” said McKenzie, showing visitors one display, then leading them to another room that’s not always open to tourists — a former cock fighting arena.

“This is actually where they would fight the roosters,” McKenzie said. “There was a cock fighting arena, and there was a speakeasy during Prohibition. So a lot of history took place here …”

Frostburg’s Bicentennial Festival continues today with a barbecue from 12:30 to 6 p.m. in the City Square parking lot, and A Chorus of 200 Voices at 3 p.m. at the Frostburg State University Performing Arts Center’s Pealer Recital Hall.