Michel Fortin of St. Albans has been named this year’s Best Beard in Vermont in the Fourth Annual Vermont Beardies to benefit Make-A-Wish Vermont. The annual contest raises funds to help grant wishes to Vermont’s children facing life-threatening medical conditions. This year’s contest set a fundraising record of $62,401 for Vermont’s wish kids.
While in years past winners were chosen at an in-person event featuring local celebrity judges, this year’s winners were chosen remotely in secret ballot by Make-A-Wish Vermont’s small army of volunteer Wish Granters from around the state.
The category winners for this year:
• Best Backwoods Beard – Michel Fortin of Highgate
• Best Freestyle Beard – Gordie Turner of Jeffersonville
• Best Urban Beard – Steve Tarbox of Orleans
Winner of the Backwoods category and overall Best Beard in Vermont, Michel Fortin wasn’t in it for the glory; his grandson Ace was granted a wish in 2017. “I really wanted to join the Beardies because I know what a difference wishes can make for a kid,” he said, while also admitting it was a team effort. “I’m not great with technology but my daughter helped me with the online stuff.”
Over 100 Vermonters entered the contest and over 700 people donated to support their efforts. The top individual fundraiser this year was Randy Locke of Waterville, who raised $6,475 and the top Corporate Team was Seaway Car Wash who raised a grand total of $2,901.
“We’re honestly blown away. This was an odd year, with the in-person finals being canceled and everything so uncertain,” Make-A-Wish Vermont President & CEO, Jamie Hathaway said. “To have the support of our community at this time was really special to us, and of course crucial to helping us grant wishes for kids. We are already looking forward to next year.”
Sponsors of the 4th annual event include the Wheels for Wishes Car Donation Foundation, Milne Travel, Green Mountain Video, Shearer VW of South Burlington, Smugglers’ Notch Resort, The Vermont Country Store, Star 92.9, WCAX, 101.3 The Game, and ArtsRiot.
Visit VermontBeardies.com for more photos and stories.
About Make-A-Wish Vermont
Make-A-Wish® Vermont has granted nearly 850 wishes to Vermont’s children with life-threatening medical conditions over the last 30 years. Wishes bring hope, strength, and joy to the healing process. To donate, volunteer, or refer a child to Make-A-Wish, please visit vermont.wish.org.