The day’s entertainment included more than horse races and eclectic fashion styles reminiscent of days gone by. An air show with stunt skydivers, Jack Russell terrier races, and the Parade of Hounds lined the schedule.
The sound of bagpipes hung heavily in the air as the opening ceremonies came to end and the contestants of the Von Maur Hat Parade and Contest lined the hilltop above the track. Hats in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors adorned ladies of all ages and were judged in two categories, whimsical and beautiful.
Anna Marie King, an ambassador of the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce and a small business owner, won first prize for the whimsical division. King, who enhanced her hat with peacock feathers, handmade her earrings and jacket for the event. “I have only lived in the Cartersville area for a year and half but I truly enjoy the city and the Chamber. One of my favorite things is to help excite people to take their look and kick it up a notch. That is why I am the makeover diva at Fringe Salon.”
Amid a crowd of bow ties and straw hats, the Bartow Village lined the first turn of the track. Outside the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s private tent, passersby laughed as they noticed a large fern display with high schooler Maddison Lathem dressed as a plant.
“I am a living fern,” Lathem said as she laughed. “I love Steeplechase. I have been coming since I was a little girl and some of my favorite parts are people watching and seeing all the pretty clothes. Now I get to watch people from here.”
Ellen Archer, executive director of Cartersville-Bartow CVB, is also on the Board of Stewards for Atlanta Steeplechase. “CVB has been a longtime supporter of Atlanta Steeplechase. We even had a table when the event was held in Cumming. We absolutely love Steeplechase and it is a great way to make Carterville and Bartow County more recognizable to the 25,000 Atlantans in attendance,” Archer said. The CVB noticed a rise in the number of visits to their website on the day of the horse race last year. “In 2013 we had a 77 percent increase in direct visitors to our website from the previous year.”
The 435-acre track, located near the Etowah River and on the border of Bartow and Floyd counties, was first chosen to be the home of the Atlanta Steeplechase in November 1993.