A CRACKER 29-degree, sunny day provided the lift the annual Walcha Races needed.
An optimum temperature off the track, and plenty of action on it, saw an estimated 2000 people attend the first day of the two-day cup meeting yesterday.
There were some big prizes at stake on the track and an increasing number off it.
Walcha Races social committee member Alex Little said locals and visitors well and truly upped the ante in the fashion stakes this year. Entries in the Walcha Fashions on the Field are slightly different to the traditional.
“Our judges get out and about, rove through the crowd and select the finalists,” Mrs Little said.
“We thinks that’s a great way of choosing people, because we tend to get those who wouldn’t necessarily nominate themselves.”
This year there were eight categories in the men’s and women’s fashions.
“They included best fascinator; best hat or ‘hatinator’; best-dressed man; best-dressed gentleman; best-dressed couple; best-dressed lady; best-dressed lady runner-up and classic lady,” she said. More than $4000 worth of prizes, including a $500 Turner’s of Armidale voucher for the best-dressed lady, were awarded.
“We are so lucky that the Fashions on the Field is something businesses and local residents are so happy to support,” Mrs Little said.
“Some of the prizes are donated by local families who simply want to contribute to the atmosphere of the day and someone’s enjoyment of it.”
Predictions from Walcha’s New Birds Boutique co-owner Helen Henry were right on the money. Earlier in the week she said colours would be big, and they were.
“Lots of beautiful turquoise blues and pinks,” Mrs Little said.
Classic black-and-white or cream were also popular choices.
“The winner of best-dressed lady, Benita Johnston, wore a lovely cream-and-classic-black ensemble,” she said.
Taking out the honours for the men was Dave Olrich.
Last year the Friday of the meet was cancelled due to poor weather. The Saturday of the event was moved up the hill to Armidale, but plenty of annual racegoers were left disappointed.
“We didn’t have the fashions as a result of the cancellation, and I think people really missed it. They were certainly back with a vengeance this year,” she said.
Today children will have their chance to put a stamp on the off-their-field fashions as part of the “kids’ day” of the races, which includes entertainment, jumping castles and other activities.