Post and Photos by C. Brady
This past weekend was the single greatest weekend of my year: the Far Hills Races (or the Hunt), where every sort of excessive and foolish behavior is accepted, nay encouraged; it is better than Christmas and my birthday rolled into one. If you don't believe me, read this Sunday Star Ledger headline. Picture a quaint NJ town of 500 swarmed by ten's of thousands of people in search of booze-fueled entertainment. Now picture all day drinking, horses running around (they are the excuse for this event, however not the point), random people hooking up, hopefully a lot of mud, good friends, copious amounts of alcohol, etc. That doesn't do it justice, you really have to experience first hand, but rest assured it is excellent.
More story and photos from "The Hunt" below:
The Races is a steeplechase event in my hometown that just had its 88th year. My grandfather recently published a book, and in it I found a picture of him at age 5 with his grandmother, dressed to the nines, walking around Moorhead Farms. My father used to ride horses in it as a child, and I remember attending with all my friends and placing bets on the races. It has changed a bit since those days, with the influx of New Yorkers and other people who have been enlightened to the majesty that is the Hunt. Needless to say, this is a part of my identity and I have cooped numerous friends and strangers in over the years. Let me explain why you should be there next year.
Some people come in by party bus or via train early Saturday morning (I'm talking 8 am start here people), but I like to do it a little different.
For those who have grown up attending, this is a hallowed event for which no expense or extravagance can be spared. Friday evening I amass a horde of friends at my house, and the festivities begin. Somebody steps up every year to host the pre-Races night party, and this year was no different with a catered party and massive tent, limos and the great DJ Johnny Famous on the tables, dirty dancing and kegs stands, shots galore, midnight dirt bike riding into trampolines, the veritable destruction of my house (sorry Mom and Dad), and other lighthearted fun. This goes until 5 or so, when we retire for 2 hours to begin the real adventure.
Bloodies and mimosas are our breakfast, and we set off for the Races by 8 am. Everyone sets up shop in their spot, either going full table and caterers or as I prefer the rustic approach of the trunk door open, booze packed into however much space is there, and minimal food. This year began ominously, as our vigorous celebration of Shout (a little bit louder now!) was interrupted when we were informed that the National Anthem was being sung. From there it only got classier, as the accompanying pictures will attest.
Although there are horses, I cannot honestly remember seeing one in the last 10 years. It's just not important. People complain it's douchebags acting classless and getting drunk, but let me assure you one thing: Far Hills embodies class and the Races is an institution. This is about having as much fun as possible and being with people you enjoy, care and love, and showing your Jersey pride (even if you aren't from New Jersey, you adopt it as home for one day when you are there, trust me).
I admit, there are fights, broken bones, rude behavior, over the top tailgates and general frowned upon behavior. But that is missing the point: the Races are a one day event where you should celebrate life however the alcohol you have imbibed directs you. So I say to those who poo-poo this event, come with me next year and experience first hand this most spectacular event, and then judge. Long live the Far Hills Races. I can't wait until next year.