Hats On for Spring!

From the left - Anne Sittmann, Nick Greenwell and Brandy Greenwell.  Brandy is wearing the hat that won the 2014 competition.

From the left – Anne Sittmann, Nick Greenwell and Brandy Greenwell. Brandy is wearing the hat that won the 2014 competition.

Time for hats! In the words of the classic Irving Berlin song, “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.” But Easter bonnets and fancy hats aren’t just for Easter Sunday. There’ll be plenty of chances all month long to show off at the many spring race meets in the Hunt Country, from Old Dominion Hounds’ point to point on April 4th to the Middleburg Hunt point to point on Sunday, April 26th. And then, of course, the First Saturday in May falls on the 2nd this year. For most horse fans this means Derby Day unless, of course, you live in Virginia, where it’s Gold Cup day. For the gentlemen, hats are also appropriate as are bow ties, even for those who rarely or never wear them.

Winter sank its talons deep into March, so several of the early point to points had to be postponed and/or rescheduled so April is a busy month with a race every weekend on the point to point circuit. Typically the dress is very casual at the early race meets, and hats tend to be those for warmth or rain protection, but with the spring weather, the dresses and hats come out. Dress should be appropriate to the weather conditions, especially footwear since the races, parking and tailgating areas are mostly farm fields.

Some of our favorite meets are Old Dominion’s on April 4th this year in Rappahannock County, Loudoun Hunt meet at Oatlands on April 12th, and Middleburg Hunt on April 26th at Glenwood Park in Middleburg. Old Dominion’s races usually coincide with the peak of blooming redbuds and dogwoods in early April and the course at Ben Venue offers spectacular views of both the races and the Blue Ridge mountains. The meet at Oatlands will have a ladies sidesaddle race this year. Middleburg’s meet is held at Glenwood the week after the big sanctioned Middleburg Spring Races. Glenwood, a mile outside the town of Middleburg, is a grand old race course with stone grandstands under tall oaks and Middleburg’s races also offer prizes for the best hats, as well as a tailgate competition. The competition is intense, according to one member, because everyone wants the hunt-theme embroidered linen tablecloth that’s offered as the prize for the winner. More information on upcoming meets is listed below.

Vicky Van Mater's tailgate of a few years ago. The Middleburg Hunt scarf is featured.

Vicky Van Mater’s tailgate of a few years ago. The Middleburg Hunt scarf is featured.

In case your Easter hat is dusty, outdated or you want something new this year for the races, a trip to the hunt country might be in order to score the perfect lid. Most of the tack shops carry them; this is horse country after all so some of the feed shops even carry them. Tri County Feeds in Marshall www.tricountyfeeds.com and Horse Country Saddlery in Warrenton www.horsecountrylife.com might have what you need. Both have a nice selection of hats for the races, both equestrian-themed and otherwise, and men might even find the perfect tie or hacking jacket amongst their selections. In Middleburg, Patty Milligan designs custom and vintage hats, even those to match your race day or party outfits at her business Forget Me Nots; call or text her at 571-218-5901.

Written by: Julie Reardon

Virginia Race Schedule

Saturday, April 4
12:00 noon

Old Dominion Hounds Point to Point
Ben Venue Farm, Ben Venue, Virginia
(540) 364-4573
(540) 636-1507

Sunday, April 12
12:30 pm

Loudoun Hunt Point to Point
Oatlands Plantation, Leesburg, Virginia
(540) 338-4031

Saturday, April 18
1:30 pm

Middleburg Spring Races
Glenwood Park, Middleburg, Virginia
(540) 687-6545
(504) 687-6595

Saturday, April 25
1:00 pm

Foxfield Spring Races
Charlottesville, Virginia
(434) 293-9501
www.foxfieldraces.com

Sunday, April 26
1:00 pm

Middleburg Hunt Point to Point
Glenwood Park, Middleburg, Virginia
(540) 687-6069
(540) 454-2991

Saturday, May 2
1:00 pm

Virginia Gold Cup Races
Great Meadow, The Plains, Virginia
(540) 347-2612
www.vagoldcup.com

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