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Rural Studio Pig Roast 2016

Pig Roast 2016

The morning crowd arrived at Morrisette House and gathered on the Great Hall. They noshed on sausage biscuits and sipped orange juice and stood together in silence, gazing curiously to the west. A drummer blasted a string of notes from a Samba whistle and began a steady roll on the snare.  A distant hum, like that of an approaching swarm of bees, peaked above the snare taps and grew steadily louder until, from the western sky, there descended a quadcopter drone toting an American flag which whipped enthusiastically in the down draft. The drum roared and the crowd shouted and cheered and then the flying banner zipped away into the heavens. Pig Roast 2016 had officially begun.

During the breakfast hour, third-year watercolors were clamped to the I-beam posts of the Great Hall—fifteen meticulously rendered paintings of antebellum buildings and their associated details. “Did you see all of those bricks? Every one was painted individually. That must’ve taken ages,” observed one astonished bystander. Fastidious though the brick-work was, it was Frank McDaniel's homage to the University of Alabama's President's Mansion, and its elaborate iron detail, that took the cake, receiving Dick Hudgen's much-coveted "Best Watercolor Award."

The crowd shuffled onto the lawn and, from atop the Great Hall, the fifth-year class presented an expertly choreographed brief history of the 20K Home project. The teams then descended into the lawn, and each told the story of their design proposal alongside a full-scale construction mock-up. The Demographics team handily convinced the audience of the merits of a flexible floorplan, the Eco team dazzled the crowd with their aptitude for scientific rigor, and upon seeing the Income House team’s proposed exterior materials, Frank’s grandmother, Cissy, remarked, “Isn’t it great that they’re using cedar. I think more people should use cedar.”

After a short break, the crowd reconvened at the Greenhouse, where the third-year students presented their semester's work—an interminable list of additions to the infrastructure of the Morrisette Farm. Highlights include a working solar-powered irrigation system for the Greenhouse, an earth-coupled heat exchanger and solar chimney at the Storehouse, a gutter and awning system for the roofs of the Kitchen and Storehouse, and a 72-foot long wood and concrete staircase.

A taco lunch, complete with corn tortillas and all of the right toppings, was served at 12:30. For a light dessert, the serving tables were crowned with enormous bowls of strawberries. "Strawberries!" Third-year Michael Kelly exclaimed, fondly remembering the lunch menu, "I had a mutant strawberry that was like six inches wide!"  Visitors grazed on tacos and giant strawberries, wandering around the Morrisette Farm and lounging about on the new staircase.

Following lunch were presentations from, appropriately, the Leftovers. The Rural Studio Woodshop team presented beneath their wonderful structure, a canopy of massive wooden columns and trusses built with a system of bypassed and bolted true two-bys. In the next two weeks the last of the columns and trusses will be erected, and in mid-May the SIP roofing system will arrive, ready for installation.

The next stop was Lions Park. Guests arrived at the park's front entrance where a shiny metallic structure of steel columns and tessellating aluminum beams marks the progress of the Lions Park Shade project. From the distance, a slender figure with black leather high-heeled boots and a vivid purple shirt approached the crowd. It was team member Alex Therrien dressed as none other than the late, the great, Prince. From that moment on the crowd was swept away on an unforgettable journey. Guests followed Prince through the park to the three pavilion construction sites and were, along the way, invited to "join the revolution" and to purify themselves "in the waters of Lake Minnetonka." At each site, a ceiling of glimmering, perfectly joined beams hovered overhead, held delicately by a field of slender columns. The tour culminated in one of the more surreal moments of Rural Studio history when Prince, describing the team's remaining tasks, stood atop a set of scaffolding and danced, all the while being fanned from above by a low flying drone hovering a couple of feet above his head. 

In a state of happy bewilderment, still not quite sure what had just happened, the crowd returned to their cars and formed an enormous caravan to parade back to Newbern. Leading the way was the Newbern Volunteer Fire Department, Andrew in his blue Ford, and Matt from the Newbern Mercantile pulling a hot smoker.

Once in Newbern, the doors of the woodshop were swung opened to reveal seven of the best third-year chairs ever crafted. Reproductions of Mackintosh's Ingram Chair, Bo Bardi's Folding chair, Rietveld's Zig Zag chair, and Prouvé's Standard chair were poised atop the shop tables for all to admire. After close examination and much deliberation, special guest Marlon Blackwell chose the winning piece: Sarah Curry and Caleb Munson's near-flawless interpretation of Bo Bardi's Folding chair.

The crowd exited the woodshop to the sound of velvety saxophone melodies rising through the crepe myrtles of the Newbern Library courtyard. It was Hale County High Band Director Bob Sheehan, charming the audience with smooth renditions of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and other classics. 

Barbecue and catfish dinner began at 5 p.m. Folks fixed their plates and found seats in the grass of the Bodark Amphitheater behind Chantilly. A wild band of eleven students, leftovers, alumni, and staff gathered on the stage and unsheathed a baffling array of instruments including a conga drum, melodica, violin, trumpet, saxophone, and guitars. The crowd was unprepared. Music of the highest order shook the earth, and then it began to rain. Andrew announced that the remainder of the evening festivities would be held under the Great Hall pavilion at Morrisette House, but, before leaving Chantilly, Chip Spencer launched 3.5 cubic feet of compacted whiffle dust into the sky and inaugurated the ceremony with a massive cloud of orange and blue.

With everyone cozily gathered on the Great Hall, Andrew opened the ceremony by thanking the guests of honor: David Hinson, Patrick Braxton, Alfreda Howard, and Marlon Blackwell. Marlon delivered a moving commencement address that was punctuated by a mighty beam of golden sun light, which blasted through the rain clouds and projected an enormous rainbow onto the navy dome of the eastern sky. Third-year and fifth-year students were called to the front, presented with awards, and roasted. At the end of the ceremony the crowd roared "War Eagle!" and a spectacular fireworks display ignited the night. Musical guests, The Golden Monica out of Tuscaloosa, boosted their amplifiers to eleven and struck a special series of electric guitar chords that galvanized the exhausted students into an electric frenzy of dancing and shouting, "OY!"

No one quite knows when the celebrations ended. Some say they're still going to this day. Special thanks to everyone for coming out. Pig Roast 2016 was certainly one for the books.