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Shared from the 10/1/2018 Columbus and the Valley eEdition

Steeplechase at Callaway

sent ed b y Southern Li v ng
P r e


There are a few events that are deeply connected to the cities they are hosted in. The Boston Marathon, Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls and Lexington’s Kentucky Derby are famous examples, but closer to home, the Steeplechase at Callaway, this year presented by Southern Living, has been Columbus’ big event since its inception in 1985. Always on the first Saturday in November, this tradition has been a longtime staple in the Columbus community, but that doesn’t mean the organizers have gotten complacent.

Since the Lampton family hired Outdoor Events to manage the event in 2016, the group has worked to make the Steeplechase a fun and more affordable community experience. The first order of business under Outdoor Events was to allow children 15 and under in for free, making it an event that entire families can attend without breaking the bank. Just as important, the Outdoor Events staff works to create a lighter and more enjoyable workload for the hundreds of volunteers who help to make the Steeplechase a reality. The added benefit of the enhanced volunteer experience is that the race director, Michelle Blanchard, now has the ability to focus solely on the artistic and community involvement aspects of the event, which promotes race attendance and furthers the goal of growing the Steeplechase.

The newest and most exciting news of the 2018 event is the announcement by the Lampton family and Southern Living magazine of their new partnership that introduces The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens Presented by Southern Living. With Southern Living’s ringing endorsement, the Steeplechase is now positioned, not only as a premiere event locally, but also as a widely known regional event that will draw patrons from all over the Southeast to Columbus and the region.

Upgrades to the railing throughout the grounds add a stunning visual pop to the old, familiar fixtures, and the addition of the new Liberty Utilities Hunt Club aims to give young professionals a casual and affordable V.I.P. experience. For just $150 per person, guests receive and all-inclusive experience complete with food, a wine and beer bar and live entertainment for only $40 more than a standard terrace ticket. The catering will be handled by an all-star cast of local eateries including Country’s, Epic, It’s Your Day and Callaway Gardens, which further solidifies how uniquely “Columbus” this event is.

In addition to a delicious lineup of caterers and a full day of races, the TSYS Infield offers a wide selection of activities from inflatables and rock climbing to pony rides and face painting that will entertain the whole family. Other exciting traditions at Steeplechase include the silent auction and the Jack Russell Terrier races.


event “Our can goal last is for to ensure 34 more that this .” years
-Theresa Robertson

The Steeplechase at Callaway is committed to creating an inclusive and entertaining experience for the entire community, but just as important is its mission—set by Mary Lu and Mason Lampton back in 1985—to give back to the arts in Columbus. The proceeds from the event are put directly back into Columbus’ art community in the form of donations to local institutions like the Springer Opera House, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Historic Columbus as well as the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation. This commitment to the arts has resulted in over $4 million donated to local arts organizations.

Other than donating proceeds, Steeplechase supports local artists by hosting an art contest for local K - 12 students. The contest is divided by grade level, and the winning pieces will be displayed in a gallery at the Columbus Museum from October 1 to October 26, with an awards ceremony to celebrate the winners on October 24 at 5 p.m. This contest not only highlights the remarkable work of Columbus’ young artists, but it also gives them confidence and pride upon seeing their work hung in the Columbus Museum.

Going forward, Theresa Garcia Robertson, the event’s executive director, says, “Our goal is to ensure that this event can last for 34 more years.” One of the ways Outdoor Events is working to make that happen is by “making Steeplechase an easy event to attend,” she said. This process began with allowing children under 15 into Steeplechase for free but has extended to increasing the availability of quality food options as well as selling wine and beer on premises to make going to Steeplechase as simple as just getting in the car. The next phase, she says, is to broaden the “regional look” of Steeplechase in order to make it not just a major Columbus event but a major event for anyone in the Southeast. Simply put, Robertson states, “Our goal is always to grow the event.”

This year’s Steeplechase is November 3, and gates will open at 10 a.m. The race day schedule, frequently asked questions and a full list of ticket options can be found on the Steeplechase website at SteeplechaseAtCallaway.org. C

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