The city’s reason to get dressed up and stand out in the sun is back. After a 2 year long pandemic hiatus, The Cup, previously known as the Deighton Cup returned last Saturday, July 23rd. Back to Hastings Racetrack as Vancouver’s take on the Kentucky Derby. A day where visitors dawn their Sunday best and enjoy a day out at the racetracks. But not just there to place bets on horses, The Cup boasts fashion, music, food and drink too.
Eileen of @misseileensoo acclaim and I dawn our take on the theme, and proceeded to the event site. Having both been to the event for several years now, several years back, we couldn’t help but compare notes.
This year they have done away with the iconic red carpet walk. Just a steep slope down towards the concourse. They have also done away with the photo op station right at the threshold. Guests walk right in and begin exploring the space.
Festival passes were $65 at early bird pricing, and $95 the week before. It gave access to the event space with live DJ and live music. And plenty of dance room in front of a giant stage.
Drink and food vendors are on site for you to pay as you go. Festival pricing applied. Every spirit represented by a specific brand, with their team set up to mix them into summer cocktails.
VIPs paid a little more for access to The Pearl. As media we too were given free reign of this private lounge, high above the race track with visibility of the entire track. Equipped with individual tables for guests to rest at. Each with a small television screen broadcasting the race, and a bouquet of dried wildflowers to dress up the seating.
Here, there is a private bar where you can order all the drinks available at the concourse without the lines. A fraction of what is offered at a fraction of the cost, without any of the flourishes and the pageantry of all the decorated booths. The only bonus is that The Botanist gin was served in a lovely plastic goblet, which added to the formal theme more so than the plastic disposable drink cups.
For food Salty’s Lobster Shack was crafting their popular Maine lobster rolls. And the Chewies was on site shucking fresh oysters and serving it with the option of caviar.
All this differed from the usual media/VIP set up by the racetrack, that gave you a great spot to capture the race. As well as allowing you to take in all the energy of the crowd, that surrounds it. A far cry from the secluded, air conditioned Pearl we were seated within majority of the time. At least we had immediate access to the washrooms with limited lines.
Although my favourite reason to attend The Cup is to catch all the fashion. Many fine folks, men and woman take this event and the task of dressing to impress for the “fanciest of festivals” seriously. So you can witness some pretty creative and fantastical assembles.
As in years of the past, the best dressed contest is back, but with an upgrade. A complete redesign and digital amplification. This year guests were able to enter at one of the complimentary, professional portrait studios for a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. An online vote that will be narrowed down to find a winner well after the race.
And of course the opportunity to wager on your favourite pony. If you don’t see yourself winning the grand prize for fashion, you might be able to walk away with some sum, thanks to the right bet.
In conclusion, it is great to see such iconic events return to Vancouver and the sea of people that were here for it. Not as we remembered, but one step closer to the grandeur of the past.