65th annual Bronner Bros. International Hair Show blends family, fashion and fun

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The 65th annual Bronner Bros. International Hair Show just wrapped up yesterday after delivering its usual array of dramatic hairstyles and fierce competitive displays. Held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta from February 18-21, the Bronner Bros. hair show is arguably the most popular African-American hair convention in the world. “Over 60,000 hairstylists, exhibitors, distributors and cosmetology students” attend the yearly festivities, according to the company web site. Nine thousand people watch the fierce barber competition alone, which is the heart of the four-day event.

During the Bronner Bros. barber battle, numerous hair artists craft looks in dramatic presentations for a $20,000 prize. The elaborate exhibitions often include large casts of players who provide thematic backdrops for stylists who cut hair live before an eager crowd and discriminating judges. This year, buff male models and wildly inventive props graced the stage as part of the performances. Stylist David Hiland walked away with the grand prize of twenty grand — and a fabulous pair of gold and black boxing gloves.

In addition to the barber contest, the 2012 Bronner Bros. convention featured every conceivable product and service related to hair — and beyond — ranging from classes on styling, to a performance by neo-soul artist Musiq Soulchild. There was even a church service.

An event that has drawn notable African-Americans throughout its history, this year reality TV star Tami Roman of VH1’s Basketball Wives and Soul Food actress Nicole Ari Parker attended. In the past, black luminaries such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Jackie Robinson have spoken at the show in order to reach a concentrated audience of African-Americans who were often also entrepreneurs.

The Bronner Bros. International Hair Show was founded in 1947 by Dr. Nathaniel H. Bronner, Sr. and his brother, Arthur E. Bronner, Sr., with their sister Emma, to teach African-American cosmetology techniques. Sixty-five years later, the annual coiffure convention remains a family business run by the descendants of the founders, led by the current CEO, Bernard Bronner, the son of Nathaniel.

“We are celebrating 65 years of hard work, dedication, determination, [and] focus-driven people. We are celebrating family and black history,” Christina Bronner, daughter of Bernard Bronner, said of the 2012 hair show — and the success of this perennial family enterprise.

And what a celebration it was. Check out the amazing hairstyles and barber competition highlights from the 65th annual Bronner Bros. International Hair Show below. This expo is truly an African-American tradition that blends family, fashion and fun.

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb