Saturday, December 22, 2018

6th Annual Derby on Park

I went to sketch Derby on Park, Orlando’s Premier Kentucky Derby Party: Presented by Mercedes-Benz of Orlando and Anthony Dinova, Realtor at the Winter Park Civic Center (1050 W Morse Blvd, Winter Park, Florida 32789). I met Melissa Marie McClain there. She had built an immense derby bonnet that had to be twice the size of any other bonnet there. It was vibrant green with a bright pink fluted lining that made it resemble a huge mushroom. Large feather thrust up to complete the look. There was a Best Hat Contest with a $500 cash prize. Melissa was sure to win. I had on a very floral dress shirt and a bow tie with a loud confetti pattern. I felt this dapper look might help me blend in.

I sketched all the ladies gathered outside at the tables. A gentleman wore a hat with a horse perched on top. It was encouraging to see a man embrace the hat contest. There were mint juleps and champagne along with plenty of food vendors. Everyone was dressed in their favorite derby attire, ready to cheer for their favorite horse.

As I was working on this sketch the Derby started inside the Civic Center. I could hear the roar of the crowd. While people were inside I tried a few of the outdoor food vendor booths. Always Dreaming won the 143rd Kentucky Derby it was over in an instant. Then came the real competition. All the ladies had to register on stage for the hat competition.

Long story short, Melissa's huge and vibrant hat did not win the competition. The prize instead went to the wife of one of the sponsors. People kept approaching Melissa to compliment her hat. They were all sure she had one. When she explained that she didn't win they were shocked. It wasn't a popular vote however. We have all seen how that can go in the general elections.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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