Stag Luncheon’s lure: Tradition, old friends
WINCHESTER — Some men attend the Shenandoah Ford Stag Luncheon for the beer, some for the scantily clad women — but for most, it’s about tradition.
“It’s been a family tradition for years,” said Ryan Butler.
The 26-year-old Winchester resident donned a pink polo shirt, green shorts and a shiny pink and green necklace for the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.
He attended the event — presented by Miller Lite and held at Winchester Cold Storage on North Loudoun Street — with his usual suspects: his father, brother and grandfather.
“We just like to drink, socialize and have a good time,” he said. “It’s about seeing all our friends.”
Chairman Jason Aikens, of Winchester, said about 1,700 people were on hand for the annual beer-and-food gathering — about 25 percent more than last year’s total.
“It’s the biggest event, biggest party, that the festival has on Friday,” he said. “It’s a great time to reconnect with friends — it’s kind of a tradition.”
Back by popular demand this year were special guests the International Bikini Team, and a VIP package that Aikens said sold out.
An extra $40 bought about 300 men an hour-earlier entry, drinks and food served by the International Bikini Team, pictures with the women, a T-shirt, cigar and swag and unlimited access to VIP areas — with tables and chairs protected from the weather.
This is the second year VIP tickets have been offered at the event.
VIP ticket holder Tyler Jefferson, 25, of Winchester said it was his first time at the men’s luncheon and that he plans to come back next year.
“I came this year just to hang out and have a good time,” he said after trying to send one of the women from the bikini team into the event’s dunk tank. “It’s a pretty nice setup.”
Troy Wallace, 50, said he attends the event every year with a group of workplace friends.
The Winchester resident said they wear matching hats — two-sided visors with apple blossom decor — and are ready to get their drink on.
“It’s about the beer,” he laughed, holding up his amber cup. “And you get to see people that you don’t get to see during the year and people that you haven’t seen in 20 years.”
Mark Bloxom, 28, of Winchester, said it was his fifth or sixth time at the luncheon. “I see a lot of people here that I only see during Apple Blossom. I enjoy hanging out, seeing those friends and drinking.”
He brought his friend Michael Smith, 33, for his second time at the event.
“I’m from Detroit and the community doesn’t come together like this,” he said, adding that he is now a resident of Winchester. “It’s definitely a good atmosphere, but it’s also like a vacation in my [now] hometown.”
Chris Deavers, 29, of Stephens City, said that for him, the Stag Luncheon is the perfect way to begin the Apple Blossom weekend.
“I like seeing my best friends, and this is usually the warmup before we go downtown and bar-hop all day. The one time of the year when our girlfriends let us do this.”
— Contact Melissa Boughton at firstname.lastname@example.org