Friends, staff, and dogs of The American Spectator enjoyed the fresh country air, warm company, and fine food and spirits of Madison County, Virginia, last Saturday at the magazine's first annual Pig Roast and Bluegrass Festival. TAS publisher Al Regnery opened his country getaway, the Ragged Rock Ridge, to guests escaping the city's oppressive lack of hay rides, beautiful mountain vistas, and square dancing. (Click here for a photo tour.)
Among those surviving the trek along the treacherous rustic road to Ragged Rock Ridge were such Fourth Estate types as the Spectator staff and editors, senior editor Tom Bethell and his wife Donna, Ralph Z. Hallow and Mary Lou Forbes of the Washington Times, longtime contributer Bill Tucker, Reader's Digest hall-of-famer Eugene Methvin, TAS Online regulars Doug Bandow, David Hogberg, John Tabin, Sean Higgins, and James Poulos, The Hill's editor Hugo Gurdon, his wife Meghan, and their wonderful brood, renowned national security reporter and author Richard Miniter, and the Wall Street Journal's online maestro, James Taranto. Attendees from the newsmaking side of town included Grover Norquist and his lovely bride Samah, Paul Marshall of Freedom House, D.C. Circuit Court Judge Ray Randolph and his wife Assistant Attorney General Eileen O'Connor, Frank Buckley of George Mason University, and David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union.
From early afternoon until dark, Smokin' Trout entertained the pig roast with its excellent bluegrass stylings, especially "Shady Grove" and "Orange Blossom Special." Some guests chose to work off the barbeque pork, chicken, beef, beans, corn, cake, and ice cream by learning the infamous "Virginia reel," a couples dance that is reportedly one of the first of its kind in the New World. Others hiked the steep road to Regnery's cabin overlooking the hazy Shenandoah range. Dogs swam in the small pond in which children and fathers also fished.
Regnery was happy to show friends and hangers-on his favorite modes of rural sport and transportation. Though it was much too steamy for a camp fire, Regnery piloted a hay ride about his wooded property and sent city folk flying away on his four-wheelers, including a surprised R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. Ladies quickly learned the finer points of riding four-wheelers in skirts. The adventurous were schooled in the gourmet beverage commonly known as "moonshine"; some were surprised by its potency.
The celebration of things country and conservative left Spectators of all sorts dreading their return to so-called civilization -- but looking forward to next summer's gathering.
(For scenes at the picnic, click here.)
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