Chop, Chop!

Tim McMurray, managing partner and talent buyer for the Mountain Sun, Southern Sun and Vine Street brewpubs, started the annual Chop Month in 1998. "This guy, Lou, who used to work here, he liked to do funny things," remembers McMurray. "And he said, 'We should do this thing where we tell all the guys to grow chops.' So we had the entire staff grow chops, and we made these shirts, and we didn't tell anyone it was happening. Everyone grew beards, and then the first of February, we all came in with chops. And I just kept it going the following year. It's kind of grown."

Kind of. About six years ago, McMurray started taking Polaroids of the chops at the end of February and would spread the photos out on the bar. People could vote for the best chops, and the winner received three organic pork chops (of course). Then customers started getting in on the action, and the rest is history.

"I've always just done it word-of-mouth," McMurray says, "but last year was a year that I actually publicized the competition. I made these posters and had a professional photographer come down. People think it's hilarious. It was funny, because last year at Vine Street, that was our first year doing it, so it's a lot smaller, nowhere near what it's like at Mountain Sun. But a couple of people came in who saw the poster earlier in the month. One guy saw the poster in the pub and ran over to Walgreens and bought a razor and shaved in the bathroom at the pub. And this other guy had a beard that he'd had for like four years. It was a huge beard, and he shaved chops on our front patio. He ended up winning first place." (The enterprising razor-purchaser won second.)

Prizes this year include a quarter-barrel of beer, three organic pork chops and a $100 gift certificate to the pub for first place; two organic pork chops and a $100 gift certificate for second place; and one organic pork chop and $50 for third. "The one thing I didn't have last year was the King of Chops and the bagpipe player, because he had to work, but this year I hope he'll hit both locations," adds McMurray. "I've got this big chariot, and there's four guys in each corner, and the King of Chops sits up on this throne and announces the competition. They read the Chop Proclamation. It's pretty ridiculous."

Celebrate the facial-hair face-off (yes, ladies, you can paste on fake chops) tonight at 10 p.m. at Vine Street Pub, 1700 Vine Street, or 10 p.m. tomorrow at Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, 1535 Pearl Street in Boulder. For more information, go to www.mountainsunpub.com.
Sat., Feb. 27, 10 p.m., 2010

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Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen