Competition to showcase Lawrence barbers; community invited

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Local barbers will soon go head-to-head in a competition of hair styling, and the community is invited to participate in packing the house.

Cuttin Up Barber Showcase will bring the area’s talented barbers together to compete. Judges will choose the winners for Fastest and Best Bald Fade, Best Comb Over, Best Old School Cut and Outfit, and Best Design. Those who come out on top win $100 cash prizes.

Jermaine “Gametime” Jackson cuts hair at Watson’s Barbershop, owned by Marty Watson and located in the Hillcrest Shopping Center in Lawrence. Jackson, a longtime Lawrence barber, said the idea for the showcase was created out of a need for representation. 

He said most Black-owned barber shops and hair salons, such as Watson’s, Prestige Hair Studio, and Precision Cuts and Styles, weren’t being considered in town and for recognition awards, such as Best of Lawrence. 

“We want to showcase the guys that don’t get the shine,” Jackson said. “There’s other barber shops out here that people don’t even know about unless you’re one of their faithful clients or something, but we want everybody to shine in this moment, and hopefully it helps everyone’s businesses even more.”

Carter Gaskins/Contributed Photo Marty Watson (left) and Tim “Nelly” Nelson

Jackson said Tim “Nelly” Nelson, a longtime barber at Watson’s, contacted Nathan Pettingill, senior editor with Sunflower Publishing, which publishes Lawrence Magazine. Pettingill came and talked to the team of barbers at Watson’s and offered to put up some money for a showcase, Jackson said; they loved the idea and got to planning.

Those in attendance will be able to witness the competition go down while enjoying live entertainment by musicians DJ Biz and VCMN. There will also be food, drinks and retail vendors set up for folks to shop local.

Jackson said he hopes the event will be unifying, bringing barbers of all identities and walks of life together as well as fellowshipping with the Lawrence community.

Vendors for the event include Crystal Clear Realty, Brick City Clothing, Red Carpet Photography, Braids by Bree, Alphagang Clothing, Something Urban, LCA Barber and Beauty Enterprises, Nena Caro with Paparazzi Jewelry, KC’s Gifts and Surprises, R. Lamar Clothing, eXplore Lawrence and Dillons on 23rd Street.

Some of the money to fund the whole event is coming out of Jackson’s pocket, but he said he’s happy to do so because he understands what barber life is like. Since the event falls on the first weekend of Black History Month, Jackson said they will honor three Black barbers who have been cutting hair in Lawrence for 20 years or more with lifetime achievement awards.

“They haven’t really gained a lot of recognition, but they don’t complain about it,” Jackson said. “They stay humble and they keep on doing what they’re doing, and I wanted to honor them because I know the struggle. People think it’s an easy job, but it’s a hard job getting up every day and going. Yeah, it’s the profession that we chose, but we go every day, we cut hair, have fun in the shop, talk about a variety of topics — even probably influence people’s lives.”

So far, there are around eight barbers from the Lawrence and Kansas City areas entered into the competition. Interested barbers still have until the end of the day Friday, Jan. 27 to enter and can contact Jackson at 785-691-9372 to inquire. The entry fee costs $25, and then the late entry fee after Friday will be bumped up to $50, Jackson said.

Contestants are responsible for bringing their own models for the competition, but Jackson said he’s working on recruiting some backup models just in case.

Cuttin Up Barber Showcase is scheduled for 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5 at Venue 1235, 1235 N. Third St. in Lawrence. All community members are invited to come out and all ages are welcome. Admission at the door is $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Cash or card payments will be accepted.

Carter Gaskins/Contributed Photo Tim “Nelly” Nelson
Carter Gaskins/Contributed Photo Marty Watson
Carter Gaskins/Contributed Photo
Carter Gaskins/Contributed Photo Tim “Nelly” Nelson
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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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