Twenty-four years ago, October 7th was named Bill Soberanes Day and a testimonial dinner was attended by over 400 friends and well-wishers in 1988. The following day, the bronze wristwrestling statue at the corner of Washington Street and Petaluma Boulevard was unveiled, and the 27th World Wristwrestling Tournament was held.
After Bill died on June 2, 2003, at the age of 81, the Petaluma city Council read a proclamation declaring October, his birth month, as “Bill Soberanes Month.” He was well known as Petaluma’s biggest promoter. As well as being a columnist for the Argus-Courier for 49 years, Bill was claimed to having met and been photographed with more famous, infamous, usual as well as unusual people, than any other person. He was the founder of peopleology and he claimed to be the world’s leading peopleologist.
Fifty-five years ago (1958), Bill was instrumental in organizing the first Whiskerino Contest take place in Petaluma as one of the events held during the Petaluma Centennial Celebration held at the Old Adobe. This unique contest, involving “Brothers of the Brush,” was then organized as an annual event for the newly created Old Adobe Days Fiesta that was initiated in 1962. After being held annually for 40 years, it was discontinued in 2002; but revived by community volunteers in October 2003 after Bill’s death in June of that year. It has been held at Walnut Park as part of the Farmers Market, during the month of October, for the past 10 years.
Just this past Saturday, under the current leadership of Fred and Melissa Abercrombie, the 52nd Whiskerino Contest since 1958, was held at the Phoenix Theater. They estimated that there were approximately 150 spectators, with 50 contest participants. The trophy winners for the various categories were:
Timed Growth – 3 Months (Those who’s last shave was July 4th.) 1st.- Levi Williams 2nd.- Shawn Spreng 3rd.- Zachariah Sochet
Timed Growth – 2 Months (Those who’s last shave was August 4th.) 1st.- Steve Mattie
Whiskerina – 1st.- Rita Bielefeldt 2nd.- Chandell Beeson 3rd.- Krista Brickbauer
Goatee –1st.- Mark Sacman 2nd.- Karl Smarkel 3rd.- Jeff Wong
Business Beard –1st.- Nick Bacon 2nd.- Brad Harding 3rd.- Ryan Noble
Sideburns – 1st. Anthony Fontes 2nd. Jezra
Moustache – 1st.- Sean Raiger 2nd.- John Herschel 3rd.- Landon Gillespie
Beard – 1st.- Justin Vorhauer 2nd. Aarne Bielefeldt 3rd. Thomas Gerdes
Freestyle – 1st.- John “Mongolian Deathworm” Graff
Best of the Show Winner of the Coveted Golden Chicken – Isaih “Incredibeard” Webb
Stay tuned for more “Bill Soberanes” Month blogs.