The Beard Growing Contest and other March Traditions
ABBIE | March 15, 2013 | TRANSFORMATION BLOG
1963 Winners of the Annual Beard Growing Contest, Student Handbook, 1963-1964.
During the 1930s – 1970s several important Miner traditions took place in March. In the early 1930s the "Engineering Holiday" was observed by the College Engineers on St. Patrick's Day. The engineers celebrated with a picnic sponsored by the Scientific Club. In the late 1930s freshman engineers were initiated into the "Order of Saint Pat. " Engineers held their initiation ceremony at the mines in Orogrande, New Mexico – a place "steeped in mining atmosphere." March 17 was also an important date for female freshman students as they were "initiated" in a ceremony known as St. Patricia.
Another significant March College of Mines tradition was the Hard Luck Dance, which was sponsored by the Scientific Club and held on the first Saturday evening of the month. About four weeks before the dance, campus males started competing in the annual beard growing contest. The prize for the "heaviest" beard was awarded at the dance. Other prizes were given for "most hard luck costume" at the dance. In the late 1940s and early 1950s campus males generally began growing their beards out for the contest on New Year's Day. The 1949-1950 Student Handbook notes that although the beard growing contest was "originally an engineering tradition, beard growing has spread to the East Side, and academs also compete every year." Leonard Howard, 1955 winner for "fullest" and "best" beard, was awarded a spittoon for his efforts. During the early 1960s the beard growing contest, now sponsored by the Engineering Council, required beard-growers to stop shaving on New Year's Day. A prize for the entrant with the beard that "showed the least results with the most effort" was also added to the Hard Luck Dance program. Other beard award categories over the years were: fullest, scroungiest, longest, most beautiful, and best overall. In 1962 over fifty students officially registered for the contest, though only a third remained by St. Patrick's Day. According the March 17, 1962 issue of The Prospector, students dropped out of the contest due to "girlfriends, itching, and employers." By the early 1970s the school invited the public to the Hard Luck Dance to celebrate and "reminisce about the traditions of the Texas College of Mines."