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A Wild Hair 

The town of Augusta is lookin' mighty foxy at 150 years old -- and you're invited to the celebration

"Sesquicentennial." Say it. C'mon, let it roll off your tongue. It's a beautiful word, innit? It sounds like it has something to do with those giant redwood trees, or perhaps it's the name of the ultimate gladiator. "My name is Sesquicentennial, and I'm here to free the slaves of Rome!"

Actually, sesquicentennial means "a hundred and fifty years," which is still a noble and magnificent concept, much like an ancient tree or a doughty warrior. A hundred and fifty years of anything in a nation that's still as young as America (still kickin' it at 229 and feelin' fine, thanks for asking) is quite an achievement.

So the good folks of Augusta, Missouri, are justifiably excited about their 150th anniversary as a town (although, to be honest, Augusta was actually founded in 1836 as "Mount Pleasant"; residents changed the name to Augusta in 1855). This weekend, Augusta welcomes all of Missouri to enjoy its Germanic charms. Non-Augustamites can learn the history of the town through a three-act historical revue, the music of the Augusta Bottoms Consort and the Missouri Fiddlers shall fill the streets, and two vintage base ball teams play a two-game series. And, of course, there will be plenty of the Augusta-vinted wine, beer and good old gemütlichkeit that makes the town famous.

But we would be remiss if we did not mention two very special events. The first, the Queen Contest, is a pageant only open to women born before Augusta's centennial celebration. So ladies, if you've reached the foxy fifties and you're ready to demonstrate the almost-forgotten feminine charms of poise, grace and beauty, sign up. The second event is for the hirsute he-men only: the Beard Contest. Contestants shall be judged on the fullness, length, color, shape and "originality" of their face-foliage, and you better believe competition will be fierce. After all, some of these guys have no doubt been itching for a rematch since they lost in the Centennial Beard Contest of 1955.

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