“Me and A.J., my husband, and I went to the actual Derby in 2009 and that got me hooked with the fashion and everything. I already loved horses. We started having Derby parties at the house and then I saw the events at Kelley’s Island and we started coming here and renting a house for the weekend,” Cheri Camp Potter explains her elation over the Run for the Roses.
The Oak Harbor native boarded the Kelley’s Island Ferry Thursday night and is already ready to plunk down her paycheck on the long shot, Oscar Nominated, the horse who has a fifty to one odds in winning.
“A.J. is putting his money on Mo Tom,” Potter offers more on where the bets will be made and on the couple’s Derby party plans. “It’s fun. It’s so nice over here. We’re only an hour from home, but it doesn’t feel like we’re in Ohio. We hang out and go to different bars and restaurants. They’re having Derby hat contests.”
Mary Whittman, office manager with the Kelley’s Chamber of Commerce supplies, “The people come in their fancy hats and all the restaurants enjoy having people come in and watch the Derby. It’s always a fun day. The boats are running their early May schedule. Now that we have sun in the skies people are eager to get out here.”
Back in the Glass City Shelley Crossley, Community and Public Relations Manager for the Hollywood Casino, relays that as far as the race goes the televisions will be on in the Scene restaurant. But, bets aren’t allowed.
“You can’t book here,” Crossley confirms. “In this area the Sylvania County Club does a huge party. It’s a big deal.”
“It is one of the best attended and most fun parties they have been doing for years,” solidifies Carrie Serber the Marketing Director of the Sylvania Country Club.
Over 200 attendees are expected in bowties, seersucker, hats and all-out Kentucky style the region (separated from Ohio only by the Ohio River) is known for. The party starts at 5 pm Saturday, May 7 with an appetizer station featuring fresh fruit, cheese wheels, and blue grass watermelon and feta salad. Collectible Derby glasses are ordered from Churchill Downs. They’ll be filled to the brim with Mint Juleps containing mint grown on site at the club. Attendees expected are restaurateurs George and Michelle Mancy and Promedica executives.
April Cousino, Assistant Manager, attests the success of the event has been no “Exaggerator” since its inception.
“We have a hat contest. Dining certificates will be given away and two tickets to our wine club event. This is a very traditional party with very large hats,” Cousino confides.
After the dust settles, the main grazing station opens featuring bourbon marinated beef tenderloin. Velvet Jones plays from 6:30 – 10:30 pm.
East of Kelley’s Island, hats will be donned and bourbon poured on the porch at Cleveland’s SoHo Kitchen and Bar on West 25th Street beginning at 4 pm. Chef and Owner, Nolan Konkoski is the “Creator” of this reception designed around the racehorse.
“We host a classic Derby party in every sense of the word. We do complimentary appetizers until the race and have an a la carte menu people can order from. The appetizers are all Derby inspired. Pimento cheese on crackers, deviled eggs, Benedictine sandwiches and mini Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie Pies,” Konkoski clues us in on what will be coming out of his kitchen.
SoHo is a Southern bourbon bar stocking over one hundred different bourbons to be sipped. Bullit is one of the most commonly ordered to wet one’s whistle. To brush up on the other labels: Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Eagle Rare, and Colonel E.H. Taylor are all ordered at SoHo by the distinguished drinker. At this Derby soiree four different Mint Julep recipes have been concocted: classic, peach, ginger and strawberry rhubarb.
“We went through seven hundred Mint Juleps last year. There’s no cover charge. We do a best-dressed where the staff votes and then we give away prizes, Konkoski concludes. “We are usually packed full inside and out. This party gets bigger and bigger every year. We’ll have a tent up and are expecting probably between two hundred to three hundred people. We put TVs inside and out and turn the audio on when the race begins.”
From Mo Tom, to Oscar Nominated, Shagaf, and Cherry Wine; no matter which horse is chosen to win the affection of the hard-earned cash, Potter declares all this hoopla is really all about the hat.
“My uncle got me a very expensive Derby hat. This is the real deal. It’s purple for Prince and my outfit is cute tailored beige shorts and a top which will really set off the focal point – the hat!”
The 2016 Kentucky Derby Run for the Roses will be broadcast live on NBC starting at 5 pm Eastern.