At the National Beard and Moustache Championships last month, the best goatees, Fu Manchus, handlebars, sideburns, and most glorious beards in all the land descended upon the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville to compete in 18 different categories to see whose good genes and creativity would slay the day.

The overall winner was Taylor Welden, who entered his beard in the Verdi category (which is only for beards that are under 10 centimeters long).

We love that the beard length that took home the grand prize is so achievable for a lot of guys, but we also have a lot of respect for Welden for pulling it off so well.

The best thing about these competitions is how the contestants do such an excellent job of marrying the seriousness of their craft with a sense of whimsy like you don’t find many other places. The categories that shows this like none other are called freestyle – which could not be more accurate.

The winner of this year’s full beard freestyle category was Gary Faulkner’s circle filled gear beard, which gets extra credit for being just the right amount of steampunk.

National Moustache & Beard Competition

Garey Faulkner, winner of the Full Beard Freestyle category

Check out the list of incredible winners at the National Beard Championships site, but here’s a gallery of our favorite beards from the event:

Image credits for above photos go to Greg Anderson Photography via National Beard and Moustache Championships