‘Business up front, party in the back’: Mullet contest in full glow at Court Days

·2 min read

One at a time, they’d take a few steps forward before then turning to face the stage. With their backs to the crowd — and to cheers and applause — they’d shake their heads side to side, letting their locks fly.

“I didn’t choose the mullet life, the mullet life chose me,” the announcer said after one contestant.

“He is all business up front, party in the back,” he said after another.

Kentucky’s oldest running festival was back last weekend after a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic, and on Saturday evening, spectators were embracing one of Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival’s newest events: The Mullet Competition.

The mullet hairstyle is known for the hair being cut short on the front and sides, but long in the back. Popular in the 1980s, the hairstyle is making a comeback during the COVID pandemic and there’s even national champions.

Kannon Crum, 10, poses for a photo before competing in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival on Saturday.
Kannon Crum, 10, poses for a photo before competing in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival on Saturday.
Nolan Sparks, 9, of Mt. Sterling, shows off his mullet before competing in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival in on Saturday. “His birthday is Monday,” his father, Michael Sparks, said. “He wanted to do this for his birthday.”
Nolan Sparks, 9, of Mt. Sterling, shows off his mullet before competing in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival in on Saturday. “His birthday is Monday,” his father, Michael Sparks, said. “He wanted to do this for his birthday.”

Mt. Sterling tourism director Tracy Pearce said this was the second year the Mullet Competition has been held as part of the popular Fall festival in the downtown city of Montgomery County.

“This festival is more than 220 years old and we’ve always had a great time here,” she said. “So why not have a mullet contest from now on? We plan to have it forever. As long as people want to do it, we’re going to have it.”

John Reffett, of Clay City, competes in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival in Mt. Sterling, Ky., on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.
John Reffett, of Clay City, competes in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival in Mt. Sterling, Ky., on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.
Spectators cheer on contestants in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival on Saturday.
Spectators cheer on contestants in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival on Saturday.

There were 26 contestants among the youth, teenage and adult categories. Scott Collard of Beaver Dam was named both the adult and overall winner.

“It feels great,” he said. “The mullet stays winning.”

Collard said he has worn the hairstyle since 1987.

Scott Collard, of Beaver Dam, is awarded the overall winner trophy after competing in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival on Saturday.
Scott Collard, of Beaver Dam, is awarded the overall winner trophy after competing in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival on Saturday.
Twenty-six people, among three different age groups, competed in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival in Mt. Sterling, Ky., on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.
Twenty-six people, among three different age groups, competed in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival in Mt. Sterling, Ky., on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.

“I trim it in the back every once in a while, but I’ve never cut the length off,” he explained. “It’s been my lifestyle. It’s come and gone through the years, and I just kept mine because I always liked it.”

The Court Day Festival draws hundreds of vendors and thousands of visitors to Kentucky’s downtown Mt. Sterling.

“This festival started in 1794, and this place has been here a long time,” Pearce said, “There’s a lot of history involved but we’re always looking for new things.”

Twenty-six people, among three different age groups, competed in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival on Saturday.
Twenty-six people, among three different age groups, competed in the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival on Saturday.
Jakob Richmond, 4, of Mt. Sterling, shows off for the judges at the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival in Mt. Sterling, Ky., on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.
Jakob Richmond, 4, of Mt. Sterling, shows off for the judges at the mullet competition during the 2021 Mt. Sterling Court Day Festival in Mt. Sterling, Ky., on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.
People fill downtown Mt. Sterling during the 2021 Court Day Festival on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.
People fill downtown Mt. Sterling during the 2021 Court Day Festival on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.
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