FAIRBANKS - George Haskins' remarkable handlebar mustache will be taking him to England.
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The Fairbanks man is one of two Alaskans heading to the World Beard and Moustache Championships.
He acknowledges that he has not done much to prepare for the competition next weekend in the town of Brighton.
"It's not like I can do some kind of exercise to make it grow faster," Haskins, 50, said of the mustache that measures about 20 inches from handlebar to handlebar. "It's pretty much as long as it's going to get."
More than 200 competitors from 15 different countries are expected for the event hosted by the Handlebar Club of England.
A clerk and stocker at Fred Meyer, Haskins may have the most photographed face in Fairbanks.
"Tourists like to take my picture," said Haskins. "About a month ago a guy came in and said, 'Wait a minute, I have to go get my camera,' and he came back in with about 20 people. They were all huddled around me taking pictures."
Haskins won the mustache championship at the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous two years ago. That was his first and only contest. He had to petition the World Beard and Moustache Association for a spot in the world championships by sending in his passport photo. The association approved Haskins' request, even though the passport photo wasn't big enough to include the whole mustache.
"It's not wide enough," Haskins said. "The ends get cut off."
Haskins isn't sure how many categories he can compete in. There are three divisions - full beard, partial beard and mustache - and each division contains several categories.
"Some categories you can use wax and some you can't," he said of the mustache division. "They're pretty specific about the rules and regulations."
The idea for his handlebar mustache came to Haskins when he was working at the Anchorage airport in 1985.
"I saw this guy with a little handlebar mustache and I thought that was pretty cool," Haskins recalled. "A couple days later, I trimmed off everything underneath the mustache and started waxing it."
He's been waxing it every day since, a job that takes 20 minutes each morning. The curls at the end of Haskins' mustache present the biggest challenge.
"I've only got about two little hairs on each end and it's hard to get those two hairs to do what everything else is doing," Haskins said. "That's the big challenge each morning."
He occasionally trims the ends but never more than a quarter inch.
In England, competitors must prepare their mustaches and beards in front of judges to ensure that no artificial aids, such as wire, are being used to keep it in place, Haskins said.
Dave Traver of Anchorage is the other Alaskan who will be competing in England. Traver is the perennial winner of the beard competition at the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage, which will host the World Beard and Moustache Championships in March 2009.