The Steeplechase leaps through Callaway Gardens - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

The Steeplechase leaps through Callaway Gardens

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PINE MOUNTAIN, GA (WTVM) -

Callaway Gardens Hosted the Steeplechase in Harris County, known as the "event of the season."

Thousands watched horse racing and obstacle jumping all day Saturday.  Crowds of tailgaters filled the stands and packed the infield to cheer their horses to the finish line.  The event includes a variety of activities and entertainment for all ages.  

Aside from racing, perhaps one of the most anticipated competitions of the day is the lady's hat contest.  It's a chance for women to show their creative side while really getting into the spirit of this old fashioned pastime.  Stephanie Hirst came from Pensacola, Florida to enter the contest.

"It's hot this year but it is so much fun.  I love to create the hat.  I think the whimsical category is so much fun," said Hirst.

 "I've been entering the hat contest since they started. But it's lots of fun. The adrenaline starts going and everybody participates and everybody's a winner.  It's just fun playing dress up," said Melinda Strickland, of Columbus.

 After the hats are modeled for the judges, winners are picked in each of three categories:  Most glamorous, most whimsical, and best children's hat. 

The Steeplechase happens only once a year and draws spectators from around the region.  To many, it's like an unofficial holiday.

"I'm so happy to be around all my good friends and family from years back.  I've been coming here since I was 15-years-old, so I get to see them again every year.  So it's a reunion like New Year's Eve." said Joseph K. Miller Jr.

 His father, Joe Miller Sr., was also in attendance and has been coming to the races since the first year they started.  He said his favorite part of the event is, "looking at all the young ladies. . . but horses come real close." 

The race attracts top national competitors and runs a scenic track more than two miles in length. With the beautiful weather, it's tough to picture a better way to spend a Saturday. 

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