Sumptuous tailgating and the Winterthur Point-to-Point races go hand-in-hand, with many hosts planning meticulously for months leading up to the special Sunday in May when they ‘put on the dog.’ The annual steeplechase event, now in its 40thyear, has seen an ever-escalating quality when it comes to the array of food, beverages, and décor – many of which are now actively vying to catch the eyes of discerning tailgate competition judges.
This year’s offerings included an exceptionally creative and mouth-watering array of spreads, with gorgeous floral centerpieces, tasty craft cocktails, yummy appetizers and even good old down home fried chicken.
But one tailgate appeared to be the early favorite of the judges. The old-fashioned speak-easy tailgate, tantalizingly inviting with so many extra touches, was designed by Kimberly and John Sagrati, Shannon and Eric Kauffman and Elizabeth and Vince Moro, who hoped to evoke hunt celebrations of yesteryear.
“We used vintage pieces we all have collected — John and Kim were able to find a Victrola, which we had playing. The weathervane was bought a few years ago in a local shop — with the horse, hunt horn, and directionals conveying a true sense of Point to Point,” said Elizabeth Moro.
They used real china and glass, silver trays, pitchers and candlesticks, and vintage serving pieces, making it seem like a step into history and named their tailgate the “Tailgate Club.” They also set up a separate bar using wooden wine and bourbon barrels, a few copper pieces, and real stemware. Pretty ferns were placed atop each of the barrels. A few of the hosts and their guests even dressed in apparel from the era.
And then there was the large, weathered dinner table. The heavy farm table was in fact built by Vince Moro, and it has made its way to the Winterthur races three years in a row.
This year Winterthur invited food blogger (Dining with Skyler) and social media influencer Skyler Bouchard to serve as Tailgate Ambassador. Dressed in a red and white picnic sundress, the Archmere (’11) grad mixed with the crowds all afternoon and lead the team of tailgate judges. Throughout the afternoon, she gladly posed for selfies – especially with the younger kids who are most familiar with her brand. (TSD featured a piece last month about Bouchard and her expanding food, beauty, and lifestyle brands.)
Bouchard found judging to be a much harder experience, even compared to her culinary work in the rough and tumble New York City food world. She found each of the tailgates had their personal touch, guests were warm and welcoming, and then there was the legwork.
“According to my iPhone, I walked three miles during the judging, where I walked by hundreds of the tailgates to judge everything from their food to their decor. Everyone was so generous with sharing their food and drinks, and it was all around a great time. It’s nice to see everyone come together and to include me in their fun!”
But when Bouchard arrived at the Sagrati- Kauffman-Moro tailgate, she was remarkably impressed by the effort of the planners and the distinctive, visually appealing display, which they called the “Tailgate Club.”
“The winning tailgate was a no-brainer. It was truly like walking into a speakeasy. You really didn’t feel like you were at a horse race when you stepped into lot 169. First of all, they had a beautiful wooden table which I later found out they drove all the way to the race with on the hood of their car. It was giant and definitely heavy, so power to them!”
Sitting around their sizeable wooden table filled with delicious bites and a pretty bouquet of lilies and yellow roses, the hosts at the speakeasy tailgate invited Bouchard and other judges to try a slice of delicious strawberry trifle made with angel food cake and whipped cream. Bouchard thoroughly enjoyed the visit. “I think tailgating is all about bringing people together and doing something different, and that is certainly what they were doing at the Tailgate Club. Nothing like a beautiful setup, good food, great drinks and even better people.”
The winning team received a commemorative Point-to-Point 40th-anniversary silver tray, a Tito’s gift to enjoy at their tailgate and a hot and cold CateringStone.
Moro was pleased that their historical theme tied beautifully into the 40thanniversary of the Winterthur Hunt. “Over the years Point-to-Point has stood the test of time and change. And having a theme from yesteryear – it takes us back to days when we had time for elegance and grace.”
Photos contributed by Vince Moro