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.
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.
Mrs. Bush’s blouse paid homage to the flowers she had planted at the ranch to attract butterflies.
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.
The party was treated to a spectacular big sky sunset …
…and a feast of Southern staples from the award-winning steakhouse Perini Ranch.
The menu included smoked beef tenderloin, fried catfish and a Texas chocolate sheet cake ablaze with birthday candles.
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.
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!)
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.
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If there were any dark clouds of political talk in Crawford that night, the photos showed nothing but perfectly clear, starry skies.