VIP ticket perks are a draw for some at 2013 Stag Luncheon
WINCHESTER — For the first time since the Miller Lite Stag Luncheon began, an extra $40 bought men a VIP pampering.
The VIP tickets for the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival event included early entry into the event at 11 a.m. Friday, a designated area with tables and chairs protected from the weather, unlimited food, private bars and private restrooms.
VIP ticket-holders also received a 2013 Stag Luncheon T-shirt, tickets for tosses at the dunk tank, entry into cornhole games, a photo with an International Bikini Team model, a cigar and a “Swag Bag” full of items including a commemorative tin and coupons.
And “you don’t have to wait in line,” said Tim Skorich, 37, of Stephens City.
It was his first year at the traditional beer and food gathering in Winchester Cold Storage on Loudoun Street, and Skorich didn’t want to miss a minute of it.
“VIP sounds like there might be something else to it and I don’t want to be missing something,” he said of buying the ticket.
Skip Stump, 42, of Winchester, said he wanted to get into the event earlier and hang out with friends longer. “It’s just a good tradition and I’m glad they found a way to enhance it.”
In his third year of attending the event, Alan Oglesby said the VIP pass was the main reason he decided to come back this year.
“I definitely like [VIP] a whole lot more,” the 29-year-old Winchester resident said.
At 11:45 a.m., the gates opened to all ticket-holders and the usual sea of men wearing pink and green shirts, hats, ties and necklaces flooded in.
Chairman Jason Aikens, 33, of Winchester said more than 1,500 people were on hand for the festivities.
Almost all had a beer in hand — some played games, others chatted in a group of friends and some made their way to the food vendors.
“It’s always a great time, and it’s a good vibe — a lot of guys having a good time,” said Grady Painter, 28, of Winchester. “Keep calm and Bloom on.”
Philip Smith, 42, of Winchester said he brings his group of 12 employees at Mechanical System Improvements to the event every year.
“It’s just a chance for everyone to get out and unwind before the summer season starts,” he said.
Chatting among friends and smoking a cigar, Chris Lewis said he was happy to get into the event an hour earlier on Friday.
It was his second year at the Stag Luncheon. When asked what brought him back, the 44-year-old Winchester resident held up a beer in one hand and cigar in the other.
“This and this,” he laughed, looking back at his friends for approval. “I had so much fun last year, I’ll never miss it again — I’ll be here every year.”
— Contact Melissa Boughton at firstname.lastname@example.org