Washington, D.C.

Image: Dray-Dray via Flickr CC

This year, the exclusive Alfalfa Club turns 100. Founded in 1913, the club was originally created to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee, who fought for the Confederates during the Civil War. It did not originally offer membership or inclusion for women or blacks. But these days, things are a little different. Black men gained inclusion in 1974, while women weren’t admitted until 1994.

In 2009, President Barack Obama spoke at the dinner, saying “this dinner began almost one hundred years ago as a way to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee. If he were here with us tonight, the General would be 202 years old. And very confused.” The Alfalfa Club exists solely to hold an annual banquet on the last Saturday of January. It is tradition for the nation’s president to deliver remarks at the dinner, and that tradition has been upheld in person or on video.

This year, the president didn’t attend in person but sent a recorded video message to be shown at the banquet. The club’s membership is just over 200 people, with most being American politicians and other influential business people, like Henry Kravis and Warren Buffet.This year’s attendees included guests like Ann and Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Jerry Bruckheimer. Regular and newly inducted members include Henry Kissinger, Eli Broad, Bob Corker, Ursula Burns, Cal Ripken, Bill Marriott, Fred Malek, Kirsten Gillibrand, Lamar Alexander, and Jeb Bush.

One of the club’s longstanding traditions is to name a mock presidential nominee. This year’s nominee was Henry Kissinger, who is just about to turn 90 but still claims to be as mentally sharp as ever. However, in the past nominees have included a surprising amount of people that went on to either run for the actual presidency or attain it: Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, and John McCain are all past nominees.Inside the club, traditions hold strong. As always, this year was a black-tie dinner with a

menu of steak and lobster bisque. No reporters were allowed inside. Speeches were given—most on the comic side—to a room full of aristocrats and high-society members. Some things just never change.