Each fall, one special Saturday draws thousands of visitors to the village of Far Hills, New Jersey. Daytrippers come from across the tri-state area, all eager to take part in a century-old local tradition. The annual Far Hills Race Meeting, colloquially known as “The Hunt,” is authorized by the National Steeplechase Association. But even the official website attests that this occasion is “much more than a day at the races.” Here’s more about this annual local event that happens in New Jersey, taking place on Saturday, October 16, 2021.
Vendors, food trucks, and private tailgates will surround the equine events, giving racegoers the chance to reconnect with friends and family against a bucolic backdrop. Some longtime attendees would even argue that the tailgate is the main attraction (though true horse people might beg to differ).
No matter what aspect of the day guests are most excited for, it seems to be an unspoken rule that all will be decked out in their best country-chic clothes or prep-approved plaids. If you’re looking for an autumn escape from the hustle and bustle, this day in the country might be just the ticket.
A Centennial Celebration
If not for the pandemic, festivities last year would have marked one hundred years of The Hunt. However, the race’s history begins well before 1920. The tradition started out as a fox hunt, which was established in Montclair in the late 1800s. Over the ensuing decades, the original hunt and the associated organizations evolved.
Montclair’s Essex Hunt Club, an initial sponsor of the event, was relocated to Somerset County. The Far Hills Race Meeting was ultimately brought to the county as well, to the property that is now Moorland Farm.
Though the 100th Running at Moorland Farm was highly anticipated, the race was postponed last fall due to restrictions surrounding COVID-19. This year, the celebration is poised to come back better than ever, with the introduction of a special “Centennial Tent” to commemorate the anniversary. Advertised as an “all-inclusive experience,” this tent will treat its ticket holders to specialty cocktails, VIP parking, and excellent views of the course and awards ceremony.
If you purchase a general admission ticket, there is still plenty to do during this celebration. A variety of food trucks and vendors are scattered throughout the grounds, making it easy to grab a bite as you take in the property. The race will be visible, and you might catch a glimpse of patient horses waiting in the surrounding pens before or after their event.
Transportation + Tickets
The train is considered the preferred mode of arrival, as the Far Hills station sits directly across the street from the race grounds. On the day of, trains run continuously from Hoboken, making stops at all stations on the Gladstone line. It should be noted that the trains can get quite crowded, especially at the last few stops before Far Hills.
Departing on the earlier side will help to mitigate the risk of not getting a seat or having trouble getting aboard. Purchasing tickets through the NJ Transit app will also help if you aim to avoid any lines at the ticket booth. The train itself can be quite rowdy en route to The Hunt, so don’t be surprised if you make some new friends during your trip. Note that due to current regulations, masks are mandatory if you are taking public transportation.
Driving in is a bit more challenging as the roads tend to get congested early in the day. Larger groups are advised to use public transit to curtail the mid-morning rush. General parking (without a tailgate pass) will cost approximately $30 at the property. Specific parking instructions for car services, private buses, and limousines can be found online.
Tickets + Entry
All of the proceeds of the ticket sales go to support local healthcare organizations. If bought in advance, general admission will cost $110, and the ticket price will double if purchased on race day. Passes to this year’s special Centennial Tent will cost $200 in addition to the price of general admission.
Tailgating adds a whole new level to the experience. Passes start at $600, though the price varies by parking location. These passes include general admission tickets as well as vehicle access. Spots are often renewed by regular attendees year over year, so note that availability can be limited. No matter what package you plan to purchase, you can get all ticket info by calling 908-234-9115 or visiting the website.
If you plan on attending The Hunt, you’ll be supporting local healthcare and experiencing local history. But, you’ll be tapping into something at the broader state level as well. Even residents of the Garden State can forget that horses are a part of our identity: the US Equestrian Team is headquartered just minutes from the Far Hills, in neighboring Gladstone. Youngsters who live in the area grow up taking riding lessons and witnessing barn life firsthand. For a state that is often reduced to its turnpike, the Far Hills Race Meeting is a friendly reminder of New Jersey’s pastoral side.
To keep up with all the details of the Race, visit the organizer’s website.