Much thanks to an old friend from college who is hosting me for almost two months at her home in Dalton, GA… and her hubbie, I am getting to experience a truly southern “experience.” We are at a race track in Aiken, SC for the trial runs of the steeple chase – featuring young horses who are being prepped for racing.
In other words, this is not a horse race where folks bet on the horses, but rather a social event of a more ‘gentile’ nature hosted in a part of the country where horse farms are common, attended by folks who love horses and just the general public. The festivities range from informal tailgating by folks in jeans and t-shirts, where folks entertain themselves and their friends before and between races (there’s a lot of standing around and waiting for races that only last a minute or two), as well the more upmarket folks who are in the main tent.
My friend bought the fancy tickets, which give us reserved parking near the fence, and entrance to the shaded tent — and a traditional southern buffet. At first I was worried I was over dressed because the tailgating crowd were all in jeans and t-shirts (while I am in an outfit I might wear when teaching University courses). Once we got into the tent, however, it was women in nice outfits and some big BIG hats.
We parked in the “infield” (inside the tack, just beyond that tree).
We ate what my friend says (she is a southerner from an OLD family) is an ‘obligatory’ southern buffet spread: pulled pork, grilled chicken fillet, Cole slaw, potato salad, and Green beans stewed within an inch of mush; rather than grilling the meats with BBQ sauces, as I assumed it was done, a variety of bbq sauces were lined up at the end of the table — which she assured me is how it should be done. Dessert was banana pudding, which according to my friends has to be (and was) ‘lighter than air’, and some sort of chocolate marshmallow type pudding which was less tasty.
I have to say, looking at all the women with the big hats, as well as some men who were equally dressed up, was probably the most entertaining part.