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A Virginia tradition

For 19 years, Fairfax ‘Weiner Roast’ has celebrated Law Day

weiner-roast_mainFAIRFAX — A Fairfax County legal tradition continued this month as lawyers, judges and court staffers turned a parking lot in the shadow of the county jail into a festive, old-timey picnic.

Live music, raffle prizes, a color guard and a speech by “Thomas Jefferson” highlighted the 19th annual May 1 Law Day “Weiner Roast.” The spelling of “Weiner” is no accident – the event is the brainchild of Fairfax attorney Ed Weiner and is hosted by his firm, Weiner, Spivey & Miller.

Under overcast but dry skies, 600 or more people talked, laughed and crowded the tables to taste the fare.

Online descriptions of the event make it clear the menu is limited: “No burgers. No chicken. Just wieners.”

Limiting the entrée list to wieners, however, does not mean settling for a soggy, grocery-store hot dog with a splat of yellow mustard. The Fairfax Weiner Roast boasts five varieties of fat, charcoal-roasted links, including brats and spicy Italian sausage. Enhancements include sauerkraut, a deli-style mustard and roasted peppers.

Several varieties of beer and wine are poured. Root beer floats and popcorn add flavor. Hand-rolled cigars and shoe shines complete the experience.

The music sets the mood – brassy jazz from the George Mason University Jazz Ensemble. The American Legion provides a color guard.

Ed Weiner welcomes you to his party. Peter Vieth/Virginia Lawyers Weekly

Ed Weiner welcomes you to his party. Peter Vieth/Virginia Lawyers Weekly

A fife-and-drum duo add a touch of colonial history, later continued by actor Thomas Pitz performing remarks by Thomas Jefferson.

Pitz is new to the scene, but Weiner says many of the other elements have remained constant for 19 years of Weiner Roasts.

“It’s the same band, the same shoeshine crew, the same beer distributer, the same American Legion post,” Weiner said. “It’s become a very big, kind-of block party,” he added.

Weiner turns the spotlight on court clerks, with raffle prizes and special honors. T-shirts proclaim, “Justice works because of our clerks.”

Both clerk office staff and judges’ law clerks are singled out for recognition – “Anybody who works in the courthouse who is a clerk,” Weiner explained.

“The judges really appreciate it, because no one says ‘thank you’ to their clerks,” he added.

The Weiner Roast raises money for the Fairfax Law Foundation which provides educational and charitable services to benefit the Northern Virginia community. Sponsorships range from $125 to $1,500.

— Peter Vieth