Poll the locals, and you'll get a variety of impressions about The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens. You'll hear everything from "it's just a big party in a field" to racing fans calling the equestrian event "the most competitive horse race south of Churchill Downs."
No matter where you fall on that spectrum, it's important to acknowledge one thing that's certain: there is a wide spread misunderstanding of why Steeplechase exists. We'll give you a hint. It's more than "just a big party in a field."
Here are five things you should know about The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens before you head to the event this weekend:
The race was founded by equestrian expert and philanthropist Mason Lampton. Lampton wanted to give an event that did two things very important to him: carry on his family's tradition of Steeplechase racing, and contribute to the community he loved.
Over the pasty thirty-four years Lampton's dream, The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens, has raised over $4 million dollars for the arts in the Chattahoochee Valley. Four. Million. Dollars. All of the proceeds are poured back into the vitality of our community's arts organizations. They always have been, and they always will.
There are nine beneficiaries of the funds raised every year.
The Columbus Museum
The Columbus Symphony Orchestra
Historic Columbus Foundation
Ida Cason Callaway Foundation
Springer Opera House
RiverCenter for the Performing Arts
In addition to the nine beneficiaries, Steeplechase also has an additional partnership with the Sports Medicine Program in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University. This is a program that trains veterinary students in equestrian medicine, and many of them continue to return to Steeplechase long after their schooling is finished.
The Race's executive board have made an enormous effort to feature local vendors this year. From the silent auction to the booths on the grounds, you'll find an incredible representation of our local artists and vendors from all over the Chattahoochee Valley.
It's a big deal. Southern Living is the presenting sponsor this year, and jockeys travel from across the southeast to race at Steeplechase.
So whether you're headed there for fun, to watch the races, or just to see what all of the fuss is about, don't forget to take a moment to remember the reason the race exists. Every ticket purchased matters, because the profits raised mean progress for the arts in various ways. Your ticket could be man more arts education for young people in the Chattahoochee Valley, a wider variety of content performed locally, or further funding for cultural development.
Just trust us. It's more than a party. Much, much more.◼︎
If You Go:
What: The Thirty-Fourth Running Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens Presented by Southern
Where: Callaway Gardens, 17800 US Hwy 27, Pine Mountain, GA 31822
When: November 3, 2018
Cost: Tickets start at $30 and prices vary with a wide selection of options.
Make Your Race Day a Winner!
Here are some pro tips & tricks to making the most out of your Steeplechase experience this year...
1) Click here for the full Race Day Schedule to plan your day ahead of time.
2) Don't forget to check out the Silent Auction! You can bid on your phone via the new Handbid App! Just download the app and search "Steeplechase"
3) Follow @steeplechasin on Instagram and on Facebook for updates.
4) Save this map on your phone for quick and easy access when you need it!
Your Race Day Conversation Starters:
Become a Steeplechase History buff and get ready to mix and mingle with these simple prompts! 1) "Did you know that a single family started this race to support the arts?"
2) "Have you seen the art competition winners this year?"
3) "Can you name three beneficiaries of today's race?"