We had an early start this year. I was on the Morristown train by 8:30 yesterday morning along with a few thousand other early party-goers, heading to the Steeplechase Horse Race in Far Hills, NJ. Better known simply as The Hunt (aka the Hunt for beer, the Hunt for a ride home, the Hunt for pretty much anything except class, dignity and sobriety), this is a massive tailgate party for what I’m told is a horse race which goes on all around the infield festivities. Everyone from Northern New Jersey (or, as it seems, everyone who is anyone) is probably aware of the Hunt party at Moorland Farms in Far Hills, NJ.
The train ride was a lot longer than I remembered – for about an hour we watched as the fall foliage and small towns raced past our window. First Summit, then Basking Ridge, then Bernardsville and then finally Far Hills; where the trains came to a halt and vomited out tens of thousands of soon-to-be inebriated revellers on the unsuspecting sleepy little farmland community. The area is actually quite upscale the rest of the year, where home values often exceed the $1 million mark. But for one day each year they allow any social deviant with $50 to buy a ticket, park a truck on their lawn and get drunk in their backyard.
This is about my 6th time at the Hunt, I think – who can remember? I missed the last couple years but the Hunt never forgets. It’s still the same – rows upon rows of lot parties. You see, the racetrack circles what is a basically a big parking lot, and for a fee you can either park your car in that lot or do what most people do – invite 30 or so of your friends, buy a keg and a 6 foot sub and throw a party. Some parties are more elaborate than others – several lots had ice louges for shots set up and I’m sure more than one roasted a pig. Most of them cranked their stereos loud enough to drown out the sound of the horse race.
Now, that’s the infield party (where we were). You can also get a lot on the hilltop, where most parties are catered affairs; small, intimate table settings for two on the grass where the New Jersey wealthy elite sip champagne with white gloves. While they do get just as drunk as the infielders, up on the hill you’re less likely to have to scream to be heard over the sound of the Beastie Boys being pumped out of the ghetto box running on generator power. That’s why its such a loaded question when someone asks you, “Are you in the infield or up on the Hill this year?”
At the end of the day, the ostentatious displays of wealth and party decorations really don’t matter. At an event like the Far Hills Hunt where thousands upon thousands attend and the beautiful people rub elbows with the hoi polloi, only one factor truly determines personal self-worth. How many people are in front of you in line for the bathroom?