Illustration of a man with a beard in profile next to red text on a white rectangle on a black stripe over a white strip with black text, over a red stripe with black text
Emporia is a town between Topeka and Wichita in eastern Kansas. In 1957, the town celebrated 100 years by hosting a centennial celebration. To promote the event, Centennial officials went to neighboring towns with a band and presented leaders of the town with various souvenirs including a shaving permit. The shaving permits were a product of the Brothers of the Brush who were a fundraising group that would show up in towns during times of celebrations. Participants were required to start the contest with a freshly shaven face and then not shave throughout the contest, usually months leading up to the celebration event. There were prizes for various categories, such as fastest growing and best mustache. If you didn’t participate in the event, you were encouraged to buy a pin that allowed you to shave and wear it in public. If you were caught without one, you could be subject to a voluntary fine. The proceeds from the fundraiser were given to the town. One local reporter, upon learning about the Brothers of the Brush descending upon the town’s celebration, opined if there were not better and more unique fundraising opportunities available.
The week-long celebration in Emporia began with a parade of nearly 200 participants including the company band from nearby Fort Riley. Approximately 20,000 people attended the parade including Kansas Governor George Docking. The celebration also featured a Centennial Ball in which a Centennial Queen was crowned. A nightly pageant was also put on to celebrate Emporia’s past, present, and future.
Brothers of the brush/sister of the swish (n.d.). In Sesquicentennial celebration Lehighton. Retrieved from https://scvhistory.com/scvhistory/lw3614_brothers.pdf
Mayor with hit jackpot when caravan visits. Council Grove Republican, 84(118), p. 1. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/345071341/
Whiskers again. (1957, February 21). Council Grove Republican, 84(38), p. 2. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/345067398