MINERAL SPRINGS – Prior to the horses circling the race track April 27 at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase, Monroe resident Barbara Morton was among of the most popular attractions.
The Monroe resident sat patiently near the entry gates waiting on judging for the women’s hat contest to begin. Her hat, featuring a bright bouquet of flowers, attracted many compliments and picture requests.
“You look beautiful,” someone exclaimed as she encountered Morton. “Can I get a picture of your hat?”
“Sure, I love that,” Morton said. “That’s what I’m here for.”
Morton believes she’s showcased her handmade hats at the tailgating event at least 15 times. She decided two weeks prior to the event to give it another go. She bought a dress from a vintage shop and kept adding more and more to her hat.
Her husband found two miniature horses to put on the back of it, which she thought were a tad heavy.
“It took a little time but I enjoyed it,” Morton said. “Taking all these pictures up and down here – that’s what I like.”
All eyes were on Nancy Betler as she carefully walked from the tailgating area to the hat contest station. Several people stopped the Charlotte resident to ask if they could take photos of her hat.
One eager photographer even called her “pineapple lady.” That’s because she had a pile of sunflowers arranged to look like a giant pineapple on her head. A glittery horse completed the look.
“You wouldn’t wear something like this if you didn’t want your picture taken,” Betler said.
Betler, who has previously placed in the hat contest, had been working on her design since January. She used a soda bottle with pool noodles and chicken wire to hold it together.
The event would eventually get more comfortable for Betler. She brought a second, more manageable hat to wear once the judging was over.
Peaches May, of Charlotte, converted a straw hat from Michaels into a replica race track with AstroTurf, horses, race ribbons and wooden fencing. A hidden speaker in her hat played sounds effects, including a horse’s neighs and running hooves.
May has been coming with the same group of friends to the Queen’s Cup for six years. She enjoys tailgating and spending a spring day outside reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
“It’s a fun time and a great way to engage with others,” May said of the hat contest. “It just adds a little something extra to the day. “