Hat Parade and Hat Contest


Online Registration Now Closed

Contest Categories: 


Most Beautiful Lady’s Hat, Most Whimsical Lady’s Hat, Best Children’s Hat


Contestant Number Required

Prior to 12:30 PM, register or pick up your pre-registration contestant number at the Hat Contest tent – on “The Terrace” (top of the hill above the track between the Powers party tent and sponsor tents). The tent booth opens at 11 AM. 


Parade & Contest: 12:45 – 1:15

Parade of Hats and Hat Contest participants to the Terrace Level Hat Contest Booth to proceed to the contest judging station in front of the picnic boxes. Paraders not registered to compete in the contest will drop out of line as the parade enters the judging area.


First, second and third place prizes are supplied by Von Maur. Each winner will also be awarded a blue, red or white ribbon, respectively.



Von Maur

Hat Contest Organizer:


Wear a beautiful or whimsical hat to celebrate the tradition of race day showmanship and the rites of spring by joining the Parade of Hats and the Hat Contest!  Visit the Championship Hat Contest booth – located on “The Terrace” (on the hill above the finish line Tower between the VIP cocktail party tent, Sponsors’ tents and box/guarantor seating) -- to register.


Contest participants, gather at the Hat Contest booth for the Parade of Hats, which meanders to the front of the Picnic Boxes for judging.  Ladies wishing to join only the parade can drop out of line before entering the judging area. 


Every woman will want to experience the hat wearing tradition!  At England’s Royal Ascot Races, founded in 1711, ladies wore outrageously beautiful hats that were shown off on race day and rarely seen in public again.  Today, Ascot Internet FAQs suggest that ladies wear “smart clothing” -- and a hat.  (Premier seating requires a hat!)  The fondly nicknamed “Ascot Mascot” Gertrude Shilling knew how to carry the torch of tradition forward by amazing and astonishing race fans for more than 30 years with wild and glamorous creations of fur, feathers and sequins.  


In the United States, steeplechases and celebrated track events such as the Kentucky Derby continue the custom, with a 2003 local newspaper article suggesting that a woman showing up at the Kentucky Derby without a hat is like a jockey coming onto the track without silks.  The goal of wearing a hat – whether beautiful or amusing – is to be noticed at the Derby and not to look like anyone else.  Next to the “post parade” of horses, the parade of hats held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs is said to be the second most entertaining parade of the day. 


Contestants at the Atlanta Steeplechase will fulfill the promise of Derby day: to be noticed!  Surely, the other goal: not to look like anyone else, holds even more promise!  Let the showmanship of fur, feathers, sequins, and flowers, ribbons and other ornamentations begin!