Sometimes the good time you need more than anything to take your mind off the hustble and bustle in town is a simple roadtrip away. And when you've got red-VW-driving friends like Eric Courtney and Roxanne, sometimes you get to go on these trips and have the time of your life. We hopped in the car with the Cig and headed to Northwestern, PA for Leekfest at the West Line Inn three hours north. While I expected a grand day in the sunshine with the gang, I was unprepared for the bounty of amazing food, trashy bikers, good vibes, and general thumbs-up situations we found ourselves ensconced in on this particular day.
There's not much online information about Leekfest, but I'll give you the basics I gleaned from Roxanne and associated family members over the course of the day. It's been going on for over twenty years in this extremely small town on the outskirts of the Allegheny National Forest. It's held at the historic West Line Inn, which was a really interesting old building with a great staff of friendly country dwellers.
Since there no vegetarians in the car, we indulged every culinary creation that presented itself with impunity, starting with the most interesting gas station find in some time:
Buffalo style spicy/sweet cashews. Yes, they are as delicious as you might think. We were finally able to polish off this bag by the time we had reached our destination, and that was quite a feat because these pack a punch and will not only sugar-shock you, but salt-shock you as well. Bonus.
The countryside was beautiful and we were greeted by a pheasant while we parked the car and got ready to enter. The community was packed with revelers, with the local populace exploding to 100 times its normal size for this event annually.
After paying the five dollar entrance fee, here is the Inn and a portion of the crowd. This is not including the stage setup to the right, featuring admittedly awful acoustic cover sets from local yahoos. But the first group that played was a four-man bluegrass ensemble who legitimately started the day off properly as we went for our first beers inside, where luckily enough, two of Roxanne's cousins were the bartenders. Since she doesn't drink, we had a designated driver who was not only nice enough to bring us along, but also got us drunk rather cheaply. Ciggy said it best: "Roxanne is THE BEST." Truth.com!
Here's the first thing we slammed, the Greek Leek sauce dog. Quite frankly, one of the best I've ever had. Toppings included: meat sauce (similar to Texas-style dogs, if that helps), diced leeks, whole leeks, mustard, onions, relish. Everyone knocked one back and we moved onto the real menu after checking out the bikers and tossing back a beer or two.
I was extremely happy as soon as we entered. We ditched our jackets and got back to work. This should give you a better idea of the crowd size:
Yuengling had a hand in the festivities as well. Bonus!
Despite being thoroughly confused by the ticket system at first, thanks in part mostly to Ciggy's "jammers" we indulged in beforehand, the menu looked quite promising.
Here is the owner of the Westline Inn, standing outside the deep-friend leek station. This was the second item we polished off the menu. Tickets were a buck apiece and one could conceivably get stuffed for less than ten bucks.
The finished product:
Up next came the turket meatball sub, which hit the spot and was the only menu item lacking leeks, aside from the strawberry shortcake which no one got the chance to eat.
We also got to meet Roxanne's dad, who was a complete badass and a perfect example of how to grow to be a man in this day and age. He helped get us drunk and laughed at our exploits. Here are the boys of Spring, including Eric Courtney's new starring role in "Meet the Parents".
A tasty and unassuming concotion of ham and leek provided our next culinary adventure. I do believe that Ciggy ate at least two of these.
I took on the leek sausage and potato, ham, and leek chowder next. This was probably my favorite food of the day.
After awhile I just dipped my sausage into the chowder. Steve #1.
Inside the bar when returned to get a drink, everyone got freaked out by the Bigmouth Billy Bass-esque deer head that would sing to you when it was touched. I became extremely confused when I touched the rubberized head and it swirled around to look at me and then broke into song. The real deer head a foot to the left was not much help, either. They scammed us city folk but good.
The bikers were in assless full force and confused when asked for pictures.
Not only were monsters like this one in attendance, but there were plenty of 1%ers about, including David Allan Coe's old motorcycle club, the Outlaws. Yipes! We had realized that when we saw hundreds of motorcycles lining every road that we (especially us dudes) needed to be on our absolute best behavior, lest we end up being scraped off the leathers and boots of bruisers or angry meth dealers. Amazingly, we remained unscathed as the day drew towards its zenith. However, we did become aware that bikers are the kings and queens of offensive/hilarious/genius bumper stickers, back patches, regular patches, t-shirts, and vest writing. Next time, give them a close look. I couldn't stop laughing at every slogan that passed by: "If you can read this, THIS BITCH JUST PASSED YOU!".
West Line Inn menu. Looks quite promising.
Despite our pledge to good behavior, Cig and I still needed to get into some trouble.
I love the enthralled stare in the background. Time to get punk.
I followed up with another leek sausage.
After bidding goodbye to this wonderful community, we headed back to the city. We made sure to stop off at a random gas station for a spot of ice cream the way they can only do it out in the sticks. I grabbed a chocolate and peanut butter cup waffle cone model, and my first ice cream in about a year was as good as you would imagine. I'm getting misty thinking about it now. I guess I'll just have to stop back there next year.
Since there weren't any records to be found and honestly, the bands onstage had about 1/10th the spark of a decaying horse cock, we were satisfied with Roxanne's iPod on shuffle the whole way there. But on the way home, I just said "Just jam the Velvets". With that, we revisited the classic third VU album. While I've been a VU fan for a long time now, sometimes I have to debate with myself which particular album resonates the most for me at that particular time. Some days I believe White Light/White Heat is the untouchable jumping-off point of their greatness. Or I may wake up to The Velvet Underground and Nico, a mug of green tea, and a beautiful sunrise. Perhaps full-fledged pop genius is the order of the day and Loaded will make its way to the top of the heap. But as I think about it right now, when driving through the wondrous majesty of true, wild nature, staring out the window at an ever-brightening moonlight brushing the tops of the trees and illuminating the stars around us, perhaps it doesn't matter. Perfect music will always fit our perfect moments. And here I believe you can see a touch of my ebullient side:
Thanks West Line and Roxanne for everything. I will be back next year come hell or high water. Eric Courtney and I have discussed the West Virginia Rampfest as well. Stay tuned.