Tomorrow I will be once again partaking in the Far Hills Race Meeting, more commonly referred to as "The Hunt." This will be my fourth or fifth year (I lost count after a while.)
Those of you in New Jersey have no doubt heard of this annual fundraiser and its reputation for being one of the grandest, rowdiest, high-priced tailgate party east of the Mississippi. More often than not, it's a bunch of rich college kids drinking way too much. Sure, you'll get the conservative crowd with their fancy spots, waiter service, high heels and cigars but for the rest of us, it's a chance to get together with some friends and have a good time, whatever shape we're in. My group is a little older (not college age) and do not try to be anything other than what we are, but we fit in anyway. I have to say, it is not a very ethnically diverse crowd, which only exasperate the stereotype (a true one at that) of it being geared toward white, upper middle class prepsters who try to "out-prep" one another. For someone like me, the crowd watching is just plain hilarious.
So, since I've been to a few of these things, I offer my insight and "survival guide" to you first-timers:
1) Prep your stomach and liver for mass quantities of alcohol consumption. Some start doing this Friday night/Saturday morning. Whatever works for you. For me, as I'm not one to frequent keggers anymore, I pad my stomach with bread and such before the drinking starts. Whatever you do, just remember: no one likes stepping into vomit on the field - least of all, Muffy in her Prada shoes, so do what you have to do to avoid it.
2) Dress weather-appropriately. Without fail, on the very day of The Hunt, an Arctic front blows in and it's freezing. This is only made more interesting by the deluge of rain that tends to also fall. It's like Mother Nature turns the switch just for us. One year, it rained so hard and the fields were so muddy, mud splashed all the way up to my thighs on my jeans! You're exposed for 5, 6, maybe up to 8 or 9 hours, so to avoid hypothermia, bundle up! Wear layers.
3) Wear appropriate shoes. I'm sorry - Prada heels are not appropriate, even if you're stuck with Thurston Howell III under his lush corporate tent and not parading around the grounds. Heels can sink into mud and dirt. Wellies are de rigeur on those days when you could have taken Noah's Ark to the races instead of the train. Men wearing penny loafers and argyle socks are just hilarious, but if it makes you feel good - go for it.
4) The Train. What to say about the drunk train. Board early, if you can, to get there. Watch the fields crossing over to the rails (see #2 and #3). Board early, if you can, going back. Fight for a seat. No one likes that jerky motion after chugging your weight in beer. Your stomach will thank you.
5) Bring dollars. At whatever site you find yourself, no doubt there will be betting. We just do for fun, so our group usually bets a dollar a person (although new comers to our spot this year are trying to mix it up, and I can't see the rest of us being down for that.) White boards are optional. We'll have one this year; I'll let you know how it works.
6) Have fun. It's what the day is about. I'm sure the proceeds of the day are going to a good cause, but being that I live in Essex County, I have not, nor will I probably ever, find myself in the halls of Somerset Medical Center. I'm not going to take the day, or myself, too seriously.
I would like to hear your stories about The Hunt - whether from this year or previous years. What have been your experiences, and what tips would you add to this list to help out Virgin Hunters?