The biggest surprise at the 29th Steeplechase on Saturday was the number of people competing in the Best Hat competition.
Kim Jinks, the executive director of the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens, estimated about 200 competed, which she thinks is the most ever.
The overall champion was Lucy Jones, who works for the Woodruff Co. Her bright pink hat was decorated with various Christmas ornaments. She said she stayed up all night to put it together.
Jill Cawley of Montgomery, Ala., won the Most Whimsical Hat, made by Atlanta designer Lee Maples. It had an oversized brim, decorated in black and white with plenty of crystals and trailing tulle.
Myra Rogers of Pine Mountain, Ga., has bought two Reserved Rail spots for the past 13 years. Cawley was one of the guests. Rogers won the hat category last year with a Maples-designed hat.
Cawley won a trophy in the Tailgate Competition Saturday.
Claire Nicholson, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Britt David Elementary School, won in the children's category with her hat that was made of a lampshade.
"I did it in a few hours last night," Claire said.
She had competed once before, but she said this year's hat is so much better.
Another little girl, Pailin Vongsavang, a 7-year-old first-grader at Brookstone School, made her hat last year and saved it for this year's contest.
"It was fun," she said of modeling her creation.
Despite the rain Friday, Saturday morning was clear and bright and the good weather continued all day at the event.
"I couldn't have asked for a better day," Jinks said. "It's been fantastic. I can't believe the crowds."
She said looking out toward the Infield, she can't think of another year with so many people milling about, wandering through the vendor stalls set up everywhere.
"The whole Infield is packed," Jinks said.
Yes, there was horse racing. There were also Jack Russell Terrier races, while nearby, greyhounds from Southeast Greyhound Adoption organization were doing what retired racing greyhounds do: lie in the shade and sleep.
Elsewhere, tailgaters and box "owners" decorated their areas to win prizes.
Couldn't make it to the Steeplechase?
You can still buy a piece of the event at the Columbus Museum, 1251 Wynnton Road, between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday. At the museum, you can buy souvenir T-shirts, as well as other knick-knacks and items from the Guarantor Tent, including tablecloths, napkins and centerpieces. Also, any potted plants still left over from Saturday will be for sale.