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Two-Stepping Under the Stars: Inside George W. and Laura Bush’s 70th Birthday Bash

Updated

George W. Bush, Laura Bush and George Strait on Oct. 22, 2016.
George Strait (right) sings “Happy Birthday” to President and Mrs. George W. Bush. PHOTO CREDIT: Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center

Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, gathered their closest friends under a starlit Texas sky and officially two-stepped into the seven-decade club over the weekend.

While he turned 70 back in July and she doesn’t hit that milestone until Nov. 4, the Bushes threw a joint birthday party on Saturday at their beloved Prairie Chapel ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Their birthday photo album, shared exclusively with PEOPLE, shows the couple positively basking in the good life far, far away from this election season.

Laura and George W. Bush escort George Strait through the grass of Prairie Chapel Ranch. PHOTO CREDIT: Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center

The festivities included an al fresco reception and the 43rd president showing off the art studio where he does his famous painting—dubbed (what else?) “Studio 43.”  From there, what a source described to PEOPLE as “an intimate group of friends” strode through the wildflower-studded native grasses of Prairie Chapel and settled at elegantly appointed dinner tables beneath a clear canopy erected near the property’s lake.

Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center

Mrs. Bush’s blouse paid homage to the flowers she had planted at the ranch to attract butterflies.

(From left) Jerry Jones, Laura Bush, George W. Bush and Gene Jones. PHOTO CREDIT: Grant Miller for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Grant Miller for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

 

Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center

Among the guests were former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans; Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and his wife, Gene; Ross Perot, Jr.—the son of 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot—and his wife, Sarah.

Laura Bush, Oct. 22, 2016. PHOTO CREDIT: Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfieldfor the George W. Bush Presidential Center
George Bush, Oct. 22, 2016. Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfieldfor the George W. Bush Presidential Center

The party was treated to a spectacular big sky sunset …

Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfieldfor the George W. Bush Presidential Center

…and a feast of Southern staples from the award-winning steakhouse Perini Ranch.

Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center

The menu included smoked beef tenderloin, fried catfish and a Texas chocolate sheet cake ablaze with birthday candles.

Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfield for theGeorge W. Bush Presidential Center

Guests also enjoyed an intimate performance from country music legend George Strait, who led the group in singing “Happy Birthday” to the former president and first lady.

Our source reports that as Strait played a set of his hit songs, which he dedicated “from one George to another,” the whole party hummed along and danced the two-step under long loops of strung lights.

George Strait performs at Prairie Chapel Ranch, Oct. 22, 2016. PHOTO CREDIT: Grant Miller for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Grant Miller for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Grant Miller for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Grant Miller for the George W. Bush Presidential Center

Among the guests were Ross Perot, Jr. — the son of 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot — and his wife, Sarah; Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and his wife, Gene; and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans.

Former president Bush took a moment to express his appreciation to the friends who traveled to celebrate with him and Mrs. Bush, our source says. As a keepsake, guests were given silk scarves printed with an illustration of Prairie Chapel Ranch. (And, no, it was not an illustration painted by the former president. We asked!)

 

Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center
Jess Barfield for the George W. Bush Presidential Center

The Bushes have remained largely quiet during this year’s presidential campaign, once the former president’s brother, Jeb, was out of the Republican primary race.

RELATED VIDEO: Watch President Obama Hilariously Rushing Tardy Bill Clinton to Board Air Force One

If there were any dark clouds of political talk in Crawford that night, the photos showed nothing but perfectly clear, starry skies.