Beards, bashes and dresses: Oh my! How one takeover turned into a dual fight for human health

By Marissa Novel, @MarissaNovelDE

Ladies in little black dresses won’t be the only ones having fun in the name of charity Friday.

The  first Beard and Mustache Bash will start at 6 p.m. at Rent One Park in Marion. Southern Illinoisans will have the chance to compete in a facial hair competition accompanied by other activities throughout the evening. 

The bash took the previous location of  The Little Black Dress Party, which will now be at SIU Arena.


All proceeds will go toward charities for mens’ and womens’ health, and is a hopeful among many to become an annual event like its sister charity. 

“Competitive bearding is really big right now,” Zach Bowlby, the bash’s founder said. “And a lot of those proceeds from those competitions go towards mens’ health charities.”

Bowlby, of Carbondale, said he and his wife Collette were inspired to create the event because of the lack of specific therapy centers in the region that focus on mens’ health.

He said the handful of programs offered through John A. Logan Community College and The Women’s Center are not enough. 

Bowlby, who is originally from DeSoto, said the popular television show “Whisker Wars” broadcasted on IFC also inspired him, so he contacted several regional vendors for the event.

He said a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Movember Foundation, a global fundraising and awareness organization dedicated to providing healthcare specific to men.

The Australian-based organization founded the “Moustaches in Movember” movement in 2004. It encourages men to grow mustaches all month for testicular cancer awareness.


“A moustache is nature’s billboard,” its website states. “Use it to start a conversation about men’s health this Movember.”

The remaining funds will be given to charities chosen by representatives from both the bash and The Women’s Center.

Kay Dosier, who began volunteering for the center in 2005 and has since founded her company Creative 1187, donated flyers for the event.

“I saw that they really had a huge need because the state and federal funding is being cut all the time and they are scrambling to keep all their services available,” she said. “We started the party … to raise funds to make sure they can provide the services needed for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

Tickets for the bash are $35 each. Events include a facial hair competition, a raffle with prizes valued at more than $1,000 and opportunities to support local vendors.

All who wish to compete in must register by 7 p.m. Friday.

Beverages will include craft beers from Big Muddy Brewery of Murphysboro, as well as bourbon and whiskey from Grand River Spirits, a distillery in Carbondale.

Karen Sisulak Binder, the distillery’s founder and co-owner, said the bash is a good opportunity for the community to learn about Grand River liquor selections — especially of the gluten-free variety.

Most Grand River whiskeys are gluten-free because the alcohol is made from corn mash rather than grain. Flavors include apple pie, lemonade and cherry.

“I don’t see how anyone can have a favorite,” Binder said. “You can maybe have a crush for a period of time, and then you discover  something else.”

Other vendors include tattoo booths from Artistic Mind Tattoos and Bomber Crew Tattoos; hair care products from Viking Spit, a veteran-owned company operated out of Atlanta; and musical acts from Aaron Kamm and the One Drops as well as Americana guitarist Matt Basler.

Raffle prizes include a YETI cooler, a La-Z-Boy recliner, and a wall hanging piece of art— all of which are donations.

Dosier said the decision to move the ninth annual Little Black Dress Party was a no-brainer, as the weather during the time of the event gets colder every year.

“We decided to do it indoors so ladies don’t have to worry about the weather,” she said. “Now they can come to the event in their little black dressess and enjoy themselves.”

The Little Black Dress Party will be from 6-11 p.m. Friday at arena. There will be a musical performance from Brat Pack, a show band, and a raffle for a $6,000 diamond ring donated by Diamond Designs of Marion.

Tickets for the party are $35 per person and $110 per person for priority seating.

Tickets for both events can be bought online and a limited amount for both events will be available at the door of their respective locations.