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The Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln Look-Alike contests – the signature events of the Lincoln Days Festival – draw participants from across the country.
The presenters, as they like to be called, stay in character for most of the festival. They pose for photos, sign autographs and participate in the parade.
Many of them share a wry sense of humor, much like the 16th President possessed. But they are all serious about providing an accurate depiction of Lincoln.
A couple of familiar names will be missing from the Oct. 6 contest. Charles Brame and Gerald Bestrom passed away since last year’s festival, according to Iris LaRue, director of The Lincoln Museum.
Charles Brame of California died Oct. 24, 2011, at the age of 85. He was the oldest Lincoln presenter in the country at the time of his death. He portrayed the President for about 40 years.
Brame appeared as Lincoln in several films and TV shows including Zoolander and Happy Gilmore and The Drew Carey Show.
Bestrom died April 2, 2012, at the age of 75 in Hastings, Mich. He began portraying Lincoln in the late 1980s. He traveled the country in an RV painted to resemble Lincoln’s birth cabin.
He portrayed Lincoln in the 2011 Robert Redford-directed film “The Conspirator.”
“People may remember him because of the motor home but he also played the saw,” said LaRue. “It was intriguing to some, ear-shattering to others – and he knew that.”
Oct. 6 contest
This year, the Lincoln Look-Alike contest will follow the Little Abe and Sarah contest on the main stage on Lincoln Square in Hodgenville. It begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.
The Lincolns are judged on all traits pertaining to the 16th President with each contestant being allowed two-to-three minutes to relate a Lincoln story or speech.
The Mary Todds are judged on the authenticity of the costume. Some describe the clothes they are wearing while others spark their spiel with anecdotes about shopping or their married life.
Prizes are first, $100; second, $75; and third, $50.
Contestants in costume are invited to a complimentary country breakfast on Saturday morning (7:30-9 a.m.) at the Hodgenville Woman’s Club. They may tour The Lincoln Museum for free and ride or walk in the afternoon parade. A group tour is offered at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park at 4 p.m.
Many of the contestants participate in the oratory contest at 9 a.m. in the Lincoln Museum Community Room next door to the Museum.
Deadline to enter was Sept. 15; however, late entries are accepted.
LaRue said so far there are no pre-registrations but that isn’t unusual.
“It’s pretty standard,” she said. “They have a tendency to roll in on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. From the scuttlebutt I’ve heard, we’ll probably have 12 or 13 for the Lincoln contest and probably half-a-dozen Marys.”
The contest is sponsored by Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park, Hodgenville Rotary Club, Lincoln Days Celebration and The Lincoln Museum.
For more information, contact LaRue at The Lincoln Museum at 270-358-3163 or visit www.lincolndays.org.