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Countdown to 80th Annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo begins with return of Beard-A-Reno contest

SANTA MARIA, Calif. –The countdown to the 80th Annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade officially began on Monday with the return of the time-honored tradition of the Beard-A-Reno Contest.

The annual beard and mustache growing contest started Monday morning, marking the return of the traditional event for the first time since 2019.

"We're excited," said Johnna McGuire, Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade spokeswoman. "This community is going to come together in the way that only the Central Coast can, you know, it's really what makes us proud members of the Central Coast."

The 2020 Beard-A-Reno started in February that year, but never finished due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The contest was not held the past two years in 2021 and 2022.

According to this year’s Beard-A-Reno Chairman Chuck Biely, participants may enter the contest at the Elks Rodeo Office, located at 2325 Skyway Drive, Suite H in Santa Maria starting Monday, February 20th at 9:00 a.m. through Friday, April 7th at 5:00 p.m.

All category winners will be awarded at the official dinner, which will be held at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge on Saturday, May 20, starting at 4:30 p.m.

The contest will consist of seven categories, including longest beard, blackest beard, whitest beard, reddest beard, best mustache, best attempt, and best all-around.

"I love what the Elks do for the community with the Rodeo, helping bring money to the Elks Rec foundation, and if I can do a little part to help with that, this is what I like to do," said Chad Dewey, who was the first Beard-A-Reno contestant to sign up on Monday morning.

Rules of the contest includes, all participants must be at least 21-years-old, entrants must be clean-shaven at the time of registration, mustaches are exempt and do NOT need to be shaved, registration fee for all entrants is $30.00 and includes a BBQ beef rib dinner, beans, salad, and entertainment, and those who attend the award dinner will be required to show valid ID at the entrance.

General public tickets for the Beard-A-Reno dinner will also go on sale Monday, February 20th.

Tickets may be purchased at Elks Recreation has recommend those who are interested in attending the dinner should purchase then as soon as possible since the event typically sells out quickly.

Also on Monday, Elks Recreation also unveiled its new 80th anniversary logo, which will be used on all Rodeo and Parade marketing during the upcoming rodeo season.

The new logo is a variation of the current Rodeo and Parade logo, which has been used since the 75th anniversary event five years ago.

Instead of a diamond, which is used in place of a bulls head, the new logo features an interlocking '8' and '0' in between a set of horns.

According to Elks Recreation, the new logo pays tribute and homage to eight decades of the historic Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, which dates back to 1943.

In addition, the annual Elks Rodeo Queen Contest is now gearing up for what the Elks believe will be a banner year.

It was revealed on Monday there are six non-profit organizations that are sponsoring a Queen Candidate this year, including the Black Student Union, Cuyama Valley Exchange Club, Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe, Kiwanis Club of Santa Maria Noontime, NSBC United Way and VTC Enterprises.

The fundraising campaign will officially begin on Saturday, April 8 during the annual Queen Kickoff and Auction Dinner.

The much-anticipated contest will culminate during the Queen Coronation on Friday, June 2.

The 80th Annual Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade is scheduled for June 1-4, 2023.

For more information on the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Parade, call the Elks Recreation Office at 805-925-4125 or visit

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