Creative competition: Local barber to judge national contest

Barber Mike McAndrew at his shop, Three Saints Barber Shop and Shave Parlor, will be a featured judge in the upcoming National Beard and Mustache Championship in Scranton.

In a few weeks, Mike McAndrew of Jessup’s Three Saints Barber Shop and Shave Parlor will help decide who have the best beards and moustaches in the country.

He’ll serve as one of the judges for the National Beard and Moustache Championships, run by Beard Team USA and presented by Honest Amish, which will be held Sept. 9, 10 and 11 at Montage Mountain Resort. In previous years, the competition has been held in Las Vegas, Nevada and New Orleans, Louisiana.

McAndrew, who has been a barber for over 30 years and is a member of the PA State Barber Board, offers unique cuts and impeccable shaves at his quirky shop on Church Street. He’s said the atmosphere of the shop, which features comfy furniture, vintage touches and mounted animal heads, keep customers coming back. He’s recently expanded the shop to offer a space for weddings and other event preparations.

With more than 50 categories of competition, from the best Dali-style moustache to the best full beard “freestyle” and every type of facial hair in between, he’s most looking forward to seeing the way people sculpt their facial hair into real works of art.

In previous national competitions, McAndrew said he’s seen beards sculpted into fantastical shapes, including knight’s masks and birds.

“I am just so excited to see these beards up close and personal,” he said. You can’t imagine what it is like to see these as a barber. I have trimmed a lot of beards in my years but nothing like this.”

McAndrew will be joined by a panel of other judges, including local barber Damian Biancarelli, who owns Guy’s Barber Shop in downtown Scranton.

Curt Camoni, executive director of the Lackawanna County Visitors Bureau, is betting lots of other people will want to check out the creative facial hair from around the country. Spectator and competitor tickets, as well as a full list of categories and other information, can be found at www.nationalbeardchampionships.com.

Camoni, a lifelong Jessup resident, met with the representatives from Beard Team USA in an event in California to discuss bringing the event to Lackawanna County.

“When selling Lackawanna County, we have a great area to work with and what we can do and offer is outstanding facilities and reasonable pricing. Also you can draw from major population centers that are close by, whether it’s New York, Philadelphia or New Jersey,” Camoni said.

Camoni and the visitors bureau staff hope to continue making Lackawanna County a great place for tourism in the future after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed travel and special events for the past year. He hopes the upcoming mustache and beard championships is just the first in a series of unique events for the area.

“As long as the community embraces it, we’ll sell any event to have here in Lackawanna County that will positively affect economic development and impact. We want to do events that will bring us national attention that local people will enjoy,” said Camoni.

In addition to the tourism boost locally, the national competition will also help some charities. Proceeds from the event will benefit Camp Freedom PA, a camp in Carbondale that offers outdoor adventures to disabled veterans and first responders, and The Women’s Resource Center in Scranton. The event also will benefit Direct Relief, an international nonprofit that offer an array of aid to people affected by poverty and disasters.

In addition to his judging duties, McAndrew will offer last-minute touch ups for competitors and has launched his own hair and beard care line that he hopes can be successful at the championships. Being endorsed by some of the competitors will really help his business, he said.

“This event is the Grammys of beards,” McAndrew said.