WEST JEFFERSON —Hundreds turned out for West Jefferson’s Hometown Christmas Tree Lighting on Friday.
The Nov. 27, event holiday season with a visit from Santa and friends, along with carolers, hot chocolate and rides on the West Jefferson Fire Department’s old fashioned fire engine.
Generation eXcellent helped set the mood by singing traditional Christmas carols, and the music was followd by the town’s inaugural “Centennial Beard and Mustache Contest.” West Jefferson Mayor Dale Baldwin capped the event with the lighting of the town’s official Christmas tree.
According to West Jefferson Town Clerk Wesley Barker, Friday’s event brought out a larger crowd than last year.
“It really depends on the weather, but I think there’s a lot more people here than last year,” Barker said. “Last year it was kind of rainy.”
Jane Lonon, Ashe County Arts Council Executive Director, agreed that the seasonably warm weather played a big part in this year’s attendance. Lonon also said that the event, which is sponsored by the West Jefferson Community Partnership, continues to grow each year.
“The lights have grown and the events have too,” Lonon said. “It’s a nice time for kids and it’s a nice time for families who are visiting to come see downtown.”
Beard and mustache contest
Approximately 35 men came out on Friday to show off their beards, mustaches and goatees for the first annual “Centennial Beard and Mustache Contest” which was held in celebration of West Jefferson’s Centennial.
“We are celebrating the town’s 100th birthday, we have been celebrating all year, and if you look back at things happening at the turn of the century, there is often a lot of facial growth. So, we are hosting the very first beard and mustache contest,” Lynn Rees-Jones of the West Jefferson Centennial Commission said during the event.
Danna Little of the Cutter’s Edge and J.E. Blevins, a former barber of 45 years, judged the participants in categories including best overall beard, best overall mustache, longest beard, most original beard and best overall beard and mustache.
These were the beards and mustaches that were best in show: best overall beard, Micheal Kaminski; best overall beard and mustache, Alfideo Martinez; longest beard, Conrad Tlaker; most original beard, James “Dawg” Wood; best goatee, Johnny Dehart.
Prizes for the contest were provided by Ashe County Cheese, Rose Mountain Butcher Shop, the Hotel Tavern, Black Jack’s, Carolina Country Wines, Cutter’s Edge, Rosebud Bakery, West Jefferson Centennial Commission and Florence Thomas Art School.
Rees-Jones said she would like the contest to become an annual event.
“We thought as part of the centennial it would be fun to do a contest. We’ve been promoting it all year and people seem excited about it,” Rees-Jones said. “We would love to see it go on year after year.”
West Jefferson holiday events continue
Holiday Farmers Market: Join the Ashe County Farmers Market for handmade items, canned goods and holiday decor from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 5.
Tree Fest at Ashe Arts Center Gallery: Seven thematically decorated Christmas trees reflecting the magic of the holidays and the Christmas Miniatures exhibit will be open Nov. 24 to Dec. 29; Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4p.m.
Ashe County Choral Festival at the Ashe Civic Center: Choral students from Ashe County Schools combine forces for an evening of music on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.. Tickets at $3 for adults and students.
Christmas Gallery Crawl: Stroll the streets and visit 17 galleries and craft shops in West Jefferson’s Arts District on Dec. 4 at 5-8 p.m..
Saturday with Santa: Visit with Santa and friends at the Ashe Arts Center on Dec. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Reservations are required with a cost of $5.
Arts Center Open House: Visit the Arts Center for early holiday shopping, Tree Fest and the Christmas Miniatures exhibit on Dec. 5 at 11:30 am. to 4 p.m..
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.