SARATOGA SPRINGS – The festivities surrounding opening weekend at Saratoga Race Course were, as always, filled with excitement as the Spa today capped off its first weekend of the 150th anniversary season with the 22nd annual Hat Contest.
The millinery mayhem unfolded on the track apron Sunday afternoon when a total of 202 participants turned out to compete in the contest’s three distinct categories: Uniquely Saratoga, Fashionably Saratoga, and for younger patrons, Kreative Kids.
This annual tradition featured an optional Victorian theme throughout all three of the day’s categories in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first organized race meet in Saratoga Springs, which was held over the course of four days in 1863.
Following the day’s fourth race Kathleen Christopher of Saratoga Springs, NY, was crowned the winner of the day’s most celebrated category, "Uniquely Saratoga," which awards whimsical and creative hats. Christopher received the grand prize of a $500 betting voucher and a silver trophy frame. Rounding out the category’s finalists was the second place winner Carol Slezak of Amsterdam, NY; followed by third place winner Annemarie Mitchell of Stillwater, NY. Each finalist received a silver trophy frame and a Saratoga Race Course merchandise gift certificate.
The day’s most popular category, "Fashionably Saratoga," brought 108 stylish contestants to the competition each donning their most beautiful hats. Following the third race, Michelle Hogan of Brunswick, NY, was named the day’s most fashionable contestant and awarded a $100 betting voucher and a silver trophy frame. Rose Poole of Amsterdam, NY, came in second place and Daisy Besemer of West Lebanon, NY, ranked third. Each finalist received a silver trophy frame and a Saratoga Race Course merchandise gift certificate.
Frank Potter, 5, of Duanesburg, NY, claimed the title of most stylish youngster during the first category of the afternoon, "Kreative Kids," which is reserved for those 18 and under. Potter received the prize of a custom made candy bar from Saratoga Sweets and a silver trophy frame. Eleanor Slezak, 7, of Amsterdam, granddaughter of "Uniquely Saratoga" finalist Carol Slezak, finished in second place followed by Lorelei Brennan, 4, of Saratoga Springs, to each win a silver trophy frame and a Saratoga Race Course merchandise gift certificate.
The day’s winners were selected by a panel of judges, including Kaitlin Resler, fashion editor of AllOverAlbany.com; Shanna River, co-host of the Morning Crew Show on WRVE 99.5 The River; and Jenny Witte, founder and publisher of Mamatoga.
The contest was emceed by Trishna Begam and Steve Teeling of NewsCenter 10 ABC.
The annual Hat Contest is the highlight of the three-day "Hats Off to Saratoga" festival which celebrates the arrival of the Saratoga racing season.