On May 4, fans of the storied horserace will get the chance to don those colorful, feathered, sequined creations for the ladies and sharp-brimmed fedoras for the men, and experience the thrill of the race at Longleaf Botanical Gardens.
Proceeds of the first Anniston Museum League Kentucky Derby Day will go toward construction of the gardens, located at the crest of Museum Drive behind the museum.
Oglesby, a chairperson for the event, said last year volunteers held a luncheon featuring coach Vince Dooley, which worked well. But they were looking for an event that could be held each year without the fuss of having to plan something new, Oglesby said.
From this year forward, patrons can don those fancy hats and spend the first Saturday in May sipping mint juleps while watching racehorses tear across that Kentucky track. The race will be simulcast and hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine will be served.
The derby is Kentucky, Oglesby said, calling it the “Alabama-Auburn game of the spring.”
Since the first Kentucky Derby, run in 1875, hats have been a tradition, from the simple to the sometimes outrageous. A few of those hats are on display at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville. Local residents can buy their own fancy hats, donated on consignment from Whittall & Shon in New York City, to wear to the event. Proceeds from hat purchases — on sale at Tyson Fine Wine & Things, Sarah Cavender Metalworks in Oxford and at the museum — go toward the gardens as well.
More than 300 potted rose bushes, which are almost as much a part of the race as the hats, will be sold during the event as well, with proceeds going to the gardens.
“I want everybody who doesn’t have the time to travel to Churchill Downs to be able to experience it right here in our backyard,” Oglesby said.
It will take some time to create a botanical garden the likes of what planners hope to see, Oglesby said, and fundraisers like Derby Day are vital to making it happen. Organizers hope to raise $50,000 this year.
“So many people need an event space, what better way than to turn that area into a botanical garden that has an event space?” Oglesby said. “That can be a perpetual growth for the City of Anniston, and bring a little bit more tourism into our museum complex.”
Sponsors of the fundraiser are Eastman, Calhoun County Commission, AOD Federal Credit Union and Publix.
When: Saturday, May 4 from 3:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Longleaf Botanical Gardens, Lagarde Park
Tickets: $75 for members, $100 for the general public.
Information: 256-237-6766 or www.annistonmuseum.org