As over 40,000 people packed Moorland Farm, the sight of the Far Hills Race Meeting, known as “The Hunt,” the scene looked like something out of Project X. Beer cans and red cups covered the floor, and the roars coming from the people in attendance were not because of the prestigious Grand National Steeplechase taking place on the historic grounds, but rather because of the party taking place on the large grass lot on the track’s infield.
Tickets for the event costed $100 if purchased in advance and $200 if purchased on event day. I was not alone in my shock of both the price of admission and the tentativeness to go to such extensive measures to get to the event. For me, groceries and paying the bills for my off-campus housing far outweigh the experience of going to this event.
“With my parents being my source of income right now while at school, I could not rationally spend that much money on a ticket,” said Zachary Candelaria ‘17. “While I really wanted to go, I just did not believe that it was feasible.”
The meeting, being such a well-renowned event in New Jersey, brings the best — and most expensive — outfits out of everyone’s closet. Attendees spend hundreds of dollars on designer clothing and furs to help them stand out, causing attendees to deem it comparable to the Kentucky Derby. The idea of essentially purchasing a ticket just for the Instagram picture for my friends to “like” seemed ludicrous and foolish. For others, this was attainable and I do not blame them at all for taking advantage of the experience, but it was something that I did not consider worth it.
Race-goers from Fairfield used a variety of methods to get to the meeting, many offering their homes in New Jersey to roommates and friends to spend the previous night, curbing some of the expected costs. Others utilized local bus companies, gathering large groups of students to all split the fee to take the buses to New Jersey in hopes of cutting costs and eliminating the option to drive.
“When we all sat down to think about it, we felt that the bus was the best idea,” said Vincenza DiDomenico ‘17, who coordinated transportation for over 50 students. “Individual transportation would have been upwards of $50 and would have left the possibility of getting lost. Renting the bus enabled us to all stick together and have an assured way back safely.”
As was the case in recent years, due to the tremendous amount of drinking, the Far Hills police had their work cut out for them. According to Far Hills Police Chief Michael DeCarolis in a follow-up story on NJ.com, there were 35 arrests this year. This was down from the 37 arrests last year, 36 from 2014 and 55 from 2013.
Given its growing popularity, the race will continue to attract more people, especially students from Fairfield. However, that growth will also bring more expensive days and outfits for the people that attend.