The Hunt for Mr. Utah Bear

Bears and cubs will again be on the prowl as the Utah Bear Alliance hosts its Mr. Utah Bear & Mr. Utah Cub Contest 2010 on Feb. 24–28 at Club Jam.

The contest honors gay men of larger builds who sport — or favor — body and facial hair and a more traditionally masculine image. And it also increases bear visibility in Utah, said Billy Day, the alliance’s new president, who noted that the contest was returning after a few years’ hiatus.

“It’s a contest for bears to be able to put their best foot forward and find good representation for our community here in Utah,” he said.

The five day event includes plenty of opportunities for bears, cubs (typically defined as younger bears) and their friends and admirers to socialize. The contest will kick off on Feb. 24 with Bear-a-oke — a karaoke night at JAM — and a dollar draft special on the following evening. The competition will be held Feb. 26–27 and will involve four outfit changes for contestants, said Day: casual wear (“anything you’d wear to a bar”); fantasy wear “like construction workers, or lumberjacks;” beach wear; and formal wear. All outfits, Day stressed, should be “in good taste.”

“Each time they’re on stage they’ll be asked a couple of questions,” Day continued. “They have to introduce themselves and say why they should win, sell themselves to the audience, and at the end they have to sum it up and give closing arguments about why they should win.”

“A lot of the questions will have to do with why they think they’d be a good representative to the bear community, like ‘What does the term Pride mean to you?’ or ‘How do you think you could make an influence in the gay community,’” he continued.

The judges for this year’s Mr. Utah Bear & Mr. Utah Cub Contest will come from a variety of local community organizations and include Equality Utah executive director Brandie Balken, QSaltLake publisher and editor Michael Aaron, and representatives from the Utah AIDS Foundation and Utah Pride Center.

“We want to show that this is a leadership type role and we want it to be represented like that,” said Day.

The winners of the contest (one bear and one cub) will be appointed as honorary members to the Utah Bear Alliance’s board and will be expected to appear at social events throughout the year, including fundraisers, campaign kick-offs, and events organized by groups like the Utah Pride Center and the Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire.

“Anything of that nature we want to put a bear face on,” Day explained.

The winners will also be eligible to participate in the Mr. International Bear and Cub Contest to be held at San Francisco’s International Bear Rendezvous in 2011.

Admission to the competition will be $10 at the door or $15 for both nights. Club Jam is located at 751 N. 300 West. All contestants must be current members of the alliance.

On Feb. 28 a thank you brunch will be held at the Golden Corral on 7200 South. It is open to the public.


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