Stoneybrook Offers Family Fun
Think Stoneybrook and what surfaces are images of tailgating at its finest, elaborate hats and classy bow ties, Bloody Marys and the inevitable mint julep.
There is the 5K Run for the Ribbons footrace finishing just hours before the thoroughbreds thunder across the same finish line, and hundreds of kids swarming the stick-horse races, bounce houses and climbing walls.
As the rite of spring in the Sandhills, this year's Stoneybrook Steeplechase will couple horse racing and family fun in the countryside with a chance to show off Easter hats and the best Easter egg basket.
The 61st running of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase will take place on April 7, the Saturday of Easter weekend.
As a venerable showcase for not only superior horse racing talent, but also a social gathering for "people watching" at its best, this race is the cornerstone event at the Carolina Horse Park and attracts the best horses and jockeys from around the nation. Founded more than five decades ago, Stoneybrook moved to the Carolina Horse Park in 2001 and has seen phenomenal growth as competitors vie for top honors and tens of thousands in purse money.
Stoneybrook is a tradition hailed by those who ride as well as those who don't. As the largest sporting event in Hoke County, Stoneybrook's crowd topped 8,500 people last year, and race coordinators are expecting huge crowds again.
"Most people come to see the horses, but they also come to make a day of it," said Jane Murray, the executive director for the park. "It's an all-day family affair, and a lot of people come just to have a day in the country."
This year's race day activities will include fun for the whole family. A designated kids' area will offer pony rides, climbing wall, stick-horse races and a John Deere pedal tractor race. The 5K Run for the Ribbons will be held in the morning, followed by the best of show hat contests, tailgate contest, opening ceremonies and The Shops @ Merchants Crossing.
Race director Toby Edwards lauds the tradition behind this 61st running of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase, but also commends the introduction of new events and the evolution of new community partnerships. One such partner, the Foundation of FirstHealth's Cancer Fund, will sponsor the third annual 5K Run for the Ribbons to support the needs of cancer patients in the local community.
"As a previous jockey, trainer and owner to now working in racing on the managerial side, it has been both fascinating and challenging to watch this race evolve," Edwards said. "Everyone pulls together, gives back to the community, and the result is phenomenal."
This year, tickets are available through the Carolina Horse Park as well as four different Harris Teeter locations: Aberdeen, Whispering Pines, Laurinburg and Fayetteville. With the Harris Teeter VIC card, tickets will be sold at a 20 percent discount from March 6 through April 6. General admission, which includes parking this year, is $25 in advance and $30 at the gate. Tailgate spaces range from $75 to $450.
Tickets are on sale now through the Carolina Horse Park office at (910) 875-2074 or at www.carolinahorse park.com/stoneybrook.
A 20 percent military discount is available for any level of admission.
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