What great fun at the Steeplechase

Posted on November 3, 2013 

I have worked at the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens for many years. Too many years than I'd like to remember.

But it's always great fun and this year's was no different.

The weather was glorious. I took a sweater, but I left it in my car.

And the crowds. As usual, the Terrace boxes were sold out. The Top-of-the-Turn looked pretty full as well. But it was the Infield that looked really full. It's been several years since it's been that busy out there. As I got out of the car, I noticed several cars parking nearby. Then I noticed a bunch of Springer Opera House Theater Academy students and director Ron Anderson unloading stilts. I knew the stilt-walking team had arrived. After saying hello, I took a couple of pictures and sent them to Cameron Bean, who is now in San Jose, Calif. Cam used to teach in the Academy and was the Springer's development director. Later I got a text from him saying he was going to send them to Ron to freak him out!

For Sunday's story about the big social and horse racing event, I was told to concentrate on the hat contest.

That was a great idea because we had never really done anything on the contest.

The contest had the most contestants ever, according to race officials. Kim Jinks, the executive director, estimated 200 people were in the contest.

Wow! That's a lot of children, men and women. There were many, many more girls and women, of course, but there were several men competing.

There were hats that came directly from stores, professionally created by professional designers.

One friend, Judy McNeal, was wearing a bright green hat that her husband bought for her from Sister Wig. I was wearing a Sister Wig had myself. She competed in the Most Glamorous category. I was just asking people questions.

Others, like Jill Cawley, was wearing a beautiful creation (Most Whimsial) by professional designer Lee Maples of Atlanta. Her friend Myra Rogers won in that category last year, wearing one of Lee's creations.

Still others made their own designs like Lucy Jones, who won the overall award.

Children, I think tend to make their own. Claire Nicholson, who won the children's category, made her hat from a lampshade. She said she spent a few hours Friday night making her hat. A second child, Pailin Vongsavang, made her hat a year ago and saved it for this year's contest. Both were absolutely beautiful.

So maybe next year, hand-decorated hats should be in a separate category. Hand-decorated by the model.

Just a thought.

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