Forest Park Forever has put the fun back into fundraising. Each year more than 1,000 chapeauxed women (and men) attend the June gathering held in the World’s Fair Pavilion. The colorful event starts with wine and lemonade, followed by a sit-down lunch and a lightly-judged hat contest. Prizes go to winners in such categories as Best of Table; Dapper Dudes (guys’ competition); Fascinators, Romantic (Parisian inspired); Vintage (think 1920s); Whimsical (handcrafted and imaginative); and People’s Choice (chosen by general applause).
Finding a Hat
My daughter, and our friend, Tracy, went to the event this year. Going means a hat. That takes some effort for me, because I don’t keep hats in my wardrobe anymore unless they’re furry and have ear flaps. Floppy brims and feathers take up room better occupied by shoes, purses, and scarves.
Since I’m a food blogger, I was hoping to find something tall and fruity like Carmen Miranda, the Brazilian singer/dancer used to wear. Of course, no one remembers Carmen Miranda anymore and, besides, it might be top heavy and attract insects.
But, Lisa, my daughter-in-law has an assortment of whimsical hats, so I selected one of those that suited me.
Hats in the Park
This year the weather was perfect and there was a record turnout. The event raised $450,000 for the historic park that was home to the 1904 World’s Fair.
Among my hat-wearing memories, are recollections of wearing a veil and even gloves as a properly attired young woman. When I first moved to Rolla in the early 60’s, three stores in the small town sold hats. Women wore hats to church, funerals, weddings, and receptions, so it was always best to have a few on hand.
My first hat party was in London. No, I didn’t attend anything royal. We were sightseeing about Buckingham Palace and the Queen’s Garden Party had just concluded. It was hot and people were ambling about the park in their finery, some with shoes and jackets in hand, but headgear still intact.
The Derby Hat
I didn’t see such flamboyant headgear again until the 90s, when I went to the Kentucky Derby. As I recall, it was hot that day, too, and I was tempted to remove my wide-brimmed hat and turn it into a fan, but I persisted. (The horse on which I made a small wager persisted, too, until the last lap, when he seemed to lose interest in the event.)
It was fun seeing all the stylish headwear at the Forest Park event, though it was awkward greeting people when both were wearing a broad brimmed hat. There was a lot of air kissing.