To the untrained eye our little “No-Booze Barn Bash” — a now-annual event held at the Searle Ranch barn — on June 8 was a fun, relatively harmless way to spend an evening, made possibly less dramatic by the “dry” nature of the event (“What … no DUI?!?”). As the event promo states, “meat, moo-sic and merriment … and you’ll remember where you parked your car!”

I know that having 125 or so partygoers in the ‘hood (plus the crew) probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but out here it’s not an everyday thing to see folks hiking barnward from vehicles parked waaay down Cherry Springs Ranch Drive — our own mini-Woodstock, except everybody kept their clothes on and no one gave birth on the premises, to my knowledge. Not sure what the main draw is: lots of elbow room, some excellent grass-fed beef (on the grill and on the hoof!), a little two-steppin’ ... or just the chance to hang out in a relaxing rural setting? The love starts flowing early and the valve stays open all night, if you dig.

Forgive me for waxing heavily gratitudinal regarding all this, but beneath the surface at this no-booze affair there’s a spirit at work (“spirit” — ironic, eh?), which is what gives this bad boy its unique raison d’etre. The guest list typically includes people from each of my several “spheres of influence” around the area — Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce members, dudes from Wednesday night OSWGBA pickup games (Old Slow White Guys Basketball Association, that is), Woodmoor C.C. tennis peeps, my Ashtonz bandmates and our beloved followers — aka AshHeads, folks from the world of Longhorn cattle raising, residents of our own little Cherry Springs Ranch neighborhood, and lastly — but definitely not “leastly” — friends of mine from the world of substance addiction and recovery, each at his/her own mile-marker on The Road of Happy Destiny.

It’s always hard to know how much to talk about this facet of my own daily existence — I was rescued from the Highway to Hardship in October 2002 — and we’re certainly not mentioning any names (the principle of anonymity is a crucial one for all involved). But to see a bunch of “my people” (people who but for the grace of God, like me, would be anywhere besides an alcohol-free barn party on a Saturday evening) having a terrific time, to see all these otherwise unconnected revelers enjoying each other’s company on an absolutely perfect Colorado evening, to have successfully and seamlessly merged these disparate groups in the name of socially safe, family-friendly recreation is deeply gratifying. As good as it gets, really. And everyone involved, wittingly or otherwise, was “part of the solution” on this evening: a bunch of people with no agenda other than to have a good time and not be left out when the Longhorn burgers were served.

Talk about your team effort! Putting on an event like this may not seem that complicated, but trust me: there are far more moving parts than anyone on the “outside” will ever know if it’s done right. And it was, thanks to people from each of the above-mentioned groups jumping in and making things happen. Special props to event coordinator Merrilee Ellis and her indispensable “girl Friday” Sandy Coyne (and Sandy’s son, Sean), pasture-tour drivers Dave Collins and Jake Shaw, patty-pounder/preparer Tasha Brugh of B Events and Catering, check-in chicks/merch-movers Libby Collins and Marie Belline, do-everything guy Dave Ahrens, Troy the parking patroller, Jim Reynolds the rabble-rouser and whomever I might have omitted here.

Huge thanks also to our friends Joe Bohler and Maggie Williamson, whose efforts made it possible for us to present a custom-framed print of Joe’s beautiful and sobering — see what I did there? — “A Lesson in Freedom” painting to the widow of a U.S. serviceman, in keeping with our Memorial Day theme (this party was originally scheduled for May 26, Memorial Day eve). Thanks to Nadine Caldwell and her late husband Art for his service and to all who helped make this little hoedown an event worth doing (and doing again). Bless all y’all, as they say in Texas.

For info on the July 27 barn party (featuring “moo-sic” from Ashtonz and Jon E. Boothe and the Nightwatch), go to

Charlie Searle has lived in Monument since 1994 and is active in a variety of pursuits in the Tri-Lakes area, as his tagline “Meat, Motors, Music, Media” attests. Contact Charlie at

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