Taking one on (or off) the chin

Five years ago, two friends wanted to do something to help Minot’s homeless population, and today their brainchild is still going strong with no signs of slowing down.

Beardstock 2013 will take place Saturday at Aleshire Theater, which is in Hartnett Hall on the campus of Minot State University, from 3 to 11 p.m. All proceeds from the benefit concert will go to the Minot Area Homeless Coalition.

Beardstock was created by Dan Hansen, a local music promoter who also founded the annual Rock the Leaves benefit concert, and Stefanie Engstrom, a friend of Hansen’s who was an art student in North Carolina at the time the idea for Beardstock first came to her.

After seeing how successful Rock the Leaves had been – it raised around $9,000 cumulatively for local residents needing help with medical bills in its first two years – Engstrom approached Hansen about doing something similar with her.

“She came to me, she said, ‘Hey, I want to do a benefit concert,’ and she also has a love for helping people,” Hansen said. “And I was like, ‘All right, let’s do it.'”

The very first Beardstock occurred on Jan. 10, 2009, at the Grand International Inn. It brought in almost 150 attendees and raised around $400 for the Minot Area Homeless Coalition. The following year Beardstock was held Jan. 9 at The Red Carpet in downtown Minot and raised $700 from more than 150 attendees. The event added a silent auction with prizes donated from local businesses that year, and there was also free hot chocolate to combat the January chill. A month earlier at that same venue, more than 100 pounds of food was raised, which was also donated to the homeless coalition.

In 2011, Beardstock returned to the Grand International and upped the ante with a fake beard contest. In 2012 the concert was moved to Minot State University as all three campus ministries – Lutheran Campus Ministry, Chi Alpha and Campus Crusade for Christ – were involved in helping with it.

At the time Hansen didn’t believe it would turn into an annual event, but as the years rolled by, Beardstock kept on going.

“When we started I don’t know if we ever thought we would be doing this five years later,” Hansen said. “At the time it seemed more like a one-time deal, but after five years of rocking for a good cause we are still pressing on.”

Something new Hansen is trying to do this year is broadcast the entire concert on Midcontinent Cable Channel 19 so those who have that carrier can watch it if they can’t make it out of the house. While that wasn’t set in stone at the time he was interviewed by The Minot Daily News, Hansen was hopeful the broadcast would come together.

Lutheran Campus Ministries will be continuing its relationship with Beardstock by serving a variety of free soup at the concert, keeping alive the time-honored tradition of free food to go along with great music.

There will also be Beardstock t-shirts in an array of colors for sale. Hansen said they will be $10 for a regular shirt or $15 for a V-neck.

In addition to the well-known best beard and best fake beard contests, there will also be a build-a-beard event for those who can’t or won’t grow a beard the natural way. It will be sponsored by Cru, a club at MSU.

There will also be a photo booth to capture those beards for posterity, which is sponsored by Chi Alpha, another MSU club.

Speaking of beards, the fate of Hansen’s own famous red whiskers will be decided by the public, as he is soliciting votes on Facebook as to whether he should keep his beard or shave it. He hasn’t shaved his beard in a while, and it has grown longer than it ever has before.

“It’s getting a little bit out of control,” Hansen said with a laugh. “But it’s all for the homeless.”

Hansen said his boss mentioned he was starting to look “a little homeless” himself with that long beard, and Hansen’s mother has asked on more than one occasion when he is going to “trim that thing up.”

The answer will come Saturday. No matter how the vote goes, Hansen said he will be content with the outcome. If the beard stays, he admitted he will trim it up a bit so it doesn’t look so wild. And if it has to go, Hansen said his friends and family might have a more difficult time with it than him until it grows back.

“If I shave, people don’t know who I am,” Hansen said with a laugh.

Beardstock is first and foremost about the music, and there will once again be an eclectic mix of bands and musicians on hand to entertain the crowd by playing everything from folk to rock to alternative. New bands this year are Seven Day Jones and Rainy Day Rebellion, while past performer Echos Answer will be back again. Also making a return after a brief hiatus is popular acoustic and folk musician Carly Ann.

With the area being inundated with out-of-state workers for the oil boom and the 2011 Souris River flood on top of that, the need for assistance for the homeless in and around the Magic City has never been greater. This is why Hansen is planning to make Beardstock 2013 the biggest and best ever.

“We not only want to raise money for the homeless, but awareness as well,” Hansen said. “A lot of people may not know this is an issue, but it is, and we must address it accordingly.”