SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The countdown to the 77th Annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade officially kicked off Monday morning.
Starting at 9 a.m., Elks Recreation began accepting entries into its long-running Beard-A-Reno and Miss Wrangler Contests.
"It's really been a fun tradition," said Elks Recreation President Peter Sterling. "It's just a good time to get together and enjoy your friends and a good group of people."
Now in its 61st year, the Beard-A-Reno contest is a popular and traditional Elks Rodeo favorite.
Contestants must enter clean-shaven.
They will be judged for growth and appearance in a variety of categories at the official awards dinner on Saturday, May 9.
The categories include: Longest Beard, Blackest Beard, Whitest Beard, Reddest Beard, Best Goatee, Best Mustache, Best Sideburns, Best Attempt, Wildest, Best Western Characterization and Best All-Around, with Allied Central Coast as the major presenter of the various categories.
Among the contestants this year will be James Jepsen, who was among the first to enter Monday morning.
"It's fun," said Jepsen. "It's a great event. The Elks Rodeo and Parade, this is a great way to kick it off, get it started, get into the rodeo spirit and it's a fun event."
Jepsen has participated in Beard-A-Reno before and is ready to improve on his previous performance.
"Last time I did it, I got third place for mustache and in order to do it right, you need to have a certain gap between the mustache and your beard," said Jepsen, who added he isn't sure what category he'l compete in.
Contestants that wish to sign up can enter the contest at the brand new Elks Rodeo Office, located at 2325 Skyway Drive, Suite H.
Entries for both Beard-A-Reno and Miss Wrangler will be accepted through April 3.
The first ten ladies to enter the Miss Wrangler contest will receive a Wrangler Gift Certificate, to be redeemed for a pair of Wrangler jeans. In order to receive the certificate, entrants must be registered and must attend and participate in the event. A custom made silver belt buckle will be awarded to the winner.
According to Elks Recreation, all beard growing entrants and Miss Wrangler entrants must be 21 years of age or older, all beard growing entrants must be clean-shaven at the time of registration. Mustaches are okay, however, entrants with mustaches at signups are not able to enter the Mustache category.
Registration fee for all entrants is $25 and includes a BBQ Beef Rib dinner, beans, salad, and music.
Winners for both contests will be announced at the awards dinner on May 9.
For more information call the Elks Rodeo Office (805) 925-4125 or visit elksrec.com.