Hometown of Rutherford B. Hayes celebrates with beard-growing contest

DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) -- Gentlemen, start your beards.

Men have begun a beard-growing competition that's partly a presidential look-alike contest as this central Ohio city celebrates its 200th birthday.

The current, clean-shaven resident of the White House isn't the inspiration. Instead, it's the nation's 19th president, Rutherford B. Hayes, born in Delaware in 1822 and typically pictured with long, wiry whiskers.

The competitors all started Sunday with clean slates. They were photographed with shaved chins and obtained permits to register in the contest, to be judged July 5.

Ray Blinn, 60, is growing his very first beard for the contest.

"Too bad they don't have the scruffy, mountain-man category, because that's probably going to be what I look like," Blinn said.

There will not only be a prize for the best resemblance to Hayes, but also others in categories including longest, neatest and most unusual beards.