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Testy fest, D.C.-style

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Billed as the party where “Big Sky Country meets the Beltway,” the Washington, D.C.-area version of Rock Creek’s Testicle Festival drew displaced Montanans and curious east-coasters alike to American Legion Post 109 in Arlington, Va., on Sat., May 6. Unlike the Montana version of Testy Fest held yearly in Clinton, there was no motorcycle posse in the parking lot, no wet T-shirt contest, no Russ Nasset and the Revelators and definitely no public nudity. Nonetheless, the D.C. version did have plenty of whiskey and fried bull testicles on hand, as well as the danceable honky-tonk of the Wil Gravatt Band—and for those in attendance, that was enough to suspend disbelief for a few hours.

Among the crowd were former residents of Missoula, Kalispell, Dillon, Helena and several points between. Former UM football player Andrew Larson, a Helena native now living in Baltimore, estimated that about 70 percent of attendees were from the D.C.-area, making Larson feel like something of a cultural ambassador for Montana.

“It’s not about the balls,” Larson says. “It’s about people getting together.”

The D.C. Testy Fest was founded two years ago by a group of former Montanans including Jason Begger, originally from Wibaux and now a D.C.-based legislative assistant for Congressman Denny Rehberg, and Errol Rice, who now serves as executive vice president of the Montana Stockgrowers’ Association. The Association donated 100 pounds of cattle balls for the event, according to former Missoulian and co-organizer Lyndsey Medsker.

Begger says the typical first reaction among east-coast newcomers to the testy tradition is disbelief, followed by disgust, but he adds that “a little Crown Royal and beer certainly helps get the courage up.”

That was in fact the case for Arlington information services consultant Ryan Orzechowski, who appeared both relieved and pleasantly surprised after consuming his first-ever testicle.

“If I was a bull, this is how I would want to be enjoyed,” he says.

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