Saratoga Springs

Annual Hat Contest adds to pageantry of opening weekend

Hats were judged in three categories: Kreative Kids, Fashionably Saratoga and Uniquely Saratoga.
Kiarra Seymour wears her first-place Kreative Kids entry in Sunday's Hat Contest at Saratoga Race Course.
Kiarra Seymour wears her first-place Kreative Kids entry in Sunday's Hat Contest at Saratoga Race Course.

Feathers were flying and vibrant flowers blooming on the heads of participants in Saratoga Race Course’s 27th annual Hat Contest.

The popular spectacle showcasing creativity and elegance took place Sunday as the hustle and bustle of opening weekend at the track wound down.

There were three categories of hats to judge: Kreative Kids, Fashionably Saratoga and Uniquely Saratoga. Each featured competitors wearing large and often elaborate designs that in some cases took multiple days to complete.

Onlookers cheered to support their favorites, often a member of their family. The three categories of the competition took place between races on Sunday’s card.

Kiarra Seymour of Saratoga Springs was the first place winner of the Kreative Kids contest. Her hat was a large homemade model of the track’s starting gate, complete with bright colors and miniature models of running horses taking off from the starting gate hanging from the hat.

The fanciful accessory, the 10-year-old said, took her almost a week-and-a-half to complete. It was not her first year taking part in the competition.

Race-watchers, she said, find the end of the race exciting. But just as exciting for her, she said, is the anticipation as the horses approach the starting gate and take off during the first few seconds of the race.

“I got my idea because no one has ever really done the beginning,” she said.

Isabella Harris, 13, of Pattersonville took second place in the kids’ competition with a large floral sculpture on her hat. Kiarra’s sister, Bailee Seymour, 13, took third place. 

In the Fashionably Saratoga contest, held following the fourth race, Freya Smith of Tribes Hill came in first place with a twisting geometric black-and-white striped hat, with a floral ribbon. Her mother, Maurita Smith of Fort Johnson, clinched second place with a bright orange, white and black hat with feathers. Maurita Smith created both of the hats, along with the handbags they were carrying.

“She even built the wine cooler!” Freya Smith joked.

Annette Pierson of North Syracuse, took third place in Fashionably Saratoga, which celebrates beautiful and stylish headwear. Pierson’s hat, a large, vibrant white-and-pink creation, was meant to bring back memories of elaborate and old-fashioned women’s hats from the South.

“I’m from the South,” Pierson said. “So I really love to keep things traditional.”

Pierson matched her entire outfit around her hat, with a pink-and-white floral print dress and shoes. It was Pierson’s second year competing in the hat contest.

While her hat gained significant attention, Peirson explained that seeing all the creativity surrounding the other hats, despite whether they won or not, is one of her favorite parts of opening weekend.

Up next, following the fifth race, was Uniquely Saratoga, focused on creative and whimsical hats. 

Charlotte Dipaolo of Niverville was crowned the winner with her creation showcasing Saratoga Race Course as Christmas in July. The second-place winner was Gina Forder of Stanhope, N.J, whose festive hat celebrated Justify and his Triple Crown. Third place went to Julie Potter of Duanesburg, who sported a red-and-yellow chapeau fashioned out of an umbrella. 

The prizes for the Fashionably Saratoga and Uniquely Saratoga contests were gift certificates from Hatsationa! by DEI.

Speaking of hats, the opening weekend saw the meet’s first premium giveaway, which was a black Saratoga baseball cap featuring the traditional Saratoga logo emblazoned in red, presented by Saratoga Casino Hotel.

Additionally, guests on Sunday enjoyed Taste NY’s Food and Artisan Market, an on-track shop where guests can sample and shop for food and handmade goods from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The market will be held in the Coca-Cola Saratoga Pavilion each Sunday of the 2018 meet.

Categories: Life and Arts, News, Schenectady County

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