Virginia Gold Cup Tailgating: Styling Horsey Hospitality

Vgc 01 No one would mistake me for a horse aficionado … but I've been going to Gold Cup twice a year since 2007 and quite honestly it's a total blast. After seeing an obvious decline in attendance over the last three years and a likewise drop in serious taligating, things were different today in The Plains, Va. The spectacle of horses, hats, hospitality came back with a blast of energy in crowds, racing and partying. Tailgate entries were more than double last Spring's total … and the quality jump in theme, food/beverage and execution matched the bump in numbers. 

Vgc 02 My role is simple … I help facilitate the judging of the tailgates and keep the process rolling along so the winners can be determined and recognized. This year's judges included the trio of lovely Metro women Holly Morris (Fox 5 WTTG) Angie Goff (WUSA 9) and Kate Michael (kstreetkate).

The winning entry year came from Robin Laird who went with a heavy jockey theme … but won over the judges when they jumped into a song especially composed for the tailgating "critics." Second place went to my personal favorite … the delightfully American women brought together by Melissa Kirkpatrick (see foto above). These sassy, lovely friends (since the sixth grade) have maintained a friendship marked by years of get togethers similar to Gold Cup. And on this day they were in The Plains, sans men, celebrating their friendship. They did what many did who entered the competition … create themes that didn't necessarily tie back to horses. We visited Key West when we entered the domain of North Rail 1, Spot 35. Elsewhere on the grounds, we found ethnic foods, a local men's designer who mimicked a frat party (or maybe it was a frat party), enjoyed "Pail Ale on the 4th Rail" with pails of beer, and revisited Mardi Gras (indeed, New Orleans was founded May 7 in 1718) … and on and on.

For my collection of fotos from today go to: VA GOLD CUP FOTOS They can be downloaded directly from my Gallery for those interested.

Oh, and yes there were horses running with riders on an oval course with trees, bushes, water and fences … ala the foto below. 

  Vgc 4


About the Author

Michael Birchenall is Editor and Publisher of Foodservice Monthly, a regional trade publication covering the foodservice industry of the Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, VA). Foodservice Monthly has been recognized as the Restaurant Association of Maryland's Allied Industry Member of the Year and by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington as the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year.

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