The Chelmsford Hotel has seen a day of all-too-many bad haircuts and international intrigue over its inaugural Mulletfest event, which took place over the weekend.
Laura Johnson’s family have owned the Kurri Kurri pub since 1993, and in 2009 Laura bought in and became publican.
Like so many regional hotels, the Chelmsford – Chelly – was in need of a boost to business and the brains trust found themselves at the “table of knowledge” contemplating an innovative idea to bring people to the town, and of course, the Hotel.
After discarding a couple dozen other ideas, a friend – inspired by Laura’s father-in-law’s mullet and husband’s ‘skullet’ – had the idea of celebrating the divisive hairstyle with its very own festival.
“We jokingly said if we don’t get any other entrants at least we’ve got you two,” relayed Johnson. “We all need a bit more fun in our lives.”
Another six months planning, and the pub’s first ever Mulletfest came about to help bring some attention and patronage to the ailing business.
“That’s what you’ve got to do, in these times,” she continues. “You can’t sit on your bum and do nothing.”
Although the common name is attributed to the 1994 Beastie Boys hit ‘Mullet Head’, the mixed-use hairstyle is a centuries-old divergence in bouffant aesthetics that rose to fame in the 80s, cemented by achy-breaky Billy Ray Cyrus in the early 90s.
Despite the cringes of many, the typical mullet head is a proud beast un-shamed by social conventions and unfettered by trips to the barber.
This fact prompted a veritable murder of mullets arriving at Kurri Kurri from near and far, eager to associate with their own kind and celebrate their business in front, party in the back.
Johnson reports at least 800 patrons came through the pub last Saturday, “a fair percentage” rocking the eponymous haircut. Mulletfest garnered 151 registered entrants, competing for the five categories of: Everyday, Grubby, Junior, Ladies, and Ranga.
The judges for the event were Member for Patterson, Meryl Swanson, NRL great Brett Mullins, and Dan ‘the Mullet Lord’ Brown.
Two of the day’s favourites, both driving up from Victoria, were Cougar – eventual winner of the Ranga category – and the well-dressed Laurie Manuele, who while not winning a designated category, was crowned impromptu with the ‘Mascot Award’ for looking so much like the pub’s Mulletfest promotional caricature.
Also crowned was Trent Wright of Booral, taking Grubby, Alex Keary of Mona Vale, taking Junior, and 11-month-old Sylvie Thornton, winner of the Ladies mullet.
The highly contested Everyday category was snatched by Shane ‘Shag’ Hanrahan, with his waist-length mane that hasn’t seen a cut since 1986, despite him being married to a hairdresser, who was actually the one who signed him up for the day.
Such was the power of the Shag, he was also granted the dubious title of Best Overall Mullet, and after skolling some Bundy out of his new trophy, Hanrahan celebrated with a rendition of AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds, accompanied by the band – the Stunned Mullets.
After a big day, attracting more Cyrus-cuts than ever previously seen in one place, and media attentions from as far away as France and Russia, Johnson says some patrons have already booked their rooms for the weekend for next year.
“They really deserve a massive thank you as it wouldn’t have been what it was without them.
“I’m thinking that 2019 is going to be bigger and better again.”