Music at the races

Spectators at Roedown's 35th year of horse racing entertained by 3 bands

April 12, 2009|By Lindsay Kalter | Lindsay Kalter,

The annual Marlborough Hunt Races at Roedown Farm in Davidsonville celebrated its 35th anniversary last Sunday and in the process offered up a musical dichotomy of sorts.

Near the starting line rail at one end of the oval racetrack, three local bands played between races and produced a musical mixture of guitars, bongos and pop-rock vocals for spectators and nearby tailgaters. And, where more of the racing could be seen, the audience heard a different soundtrack - the rhythmic galloping of horses and the occasional crescendo of resounding cheers.

The event, which was combined with the first-ever Roedown Music Festival, attracted about 6,000 people, a number that exceeds the attendance of recent years by about 1,000, according to Rodney Calver, Marlborough Hunt Races media relations director.

"It's been one of the busiest years we've had. The 3,500 programs we had printed off were gone in an hour and a half," he said.

Calver said the event's success can be attributed partly to the sunshine and warm temperature, which reached the mid-60s.

Vikka Molldrem, a 60-year-old Edgewater resident, was one of many who were thankful for the sunny skies. She went to the races two years ago, when the midday wind chill was in the 30s.

"It's a lot of fun when everyone is enjoying themselves and not shivering to death," said Molldrem, who was wearing a sparkling pink hat adorned with flowers and a My Little Pony figurine. The event, she added, gives the audience a "good excuse for a party."

And party they did.

Roedown Farm grounds were covered in tents, folding chairs and tables that held plates of food and bottles of alcoholic refreshments. Some tailgaters garnished their stations with flowers, while some - such as the truck sporting a giant mobile made out of fish line - were more outrageous.

Molldrem, with her self-decorated hat, was not the only one to dress up for the occasion. Roedown newcomers Micah Beck and Sam Yelton, 22-year-old seniors from Annapolis' St. John's College, showed up in colorful suits, Yelton's ensemble complete with a cane.

Of course, some skipped the frippery and focused solely on the racing. Jay Creech, a 62-year-old Kentucky native and avid horse-racing fan, most enjoyed the old-fashioned chalk bidding board.

This was the Annapolis resident's third consecutive year at the races, he said. "I wouldn't miss it."

The event's stars - the jockeys - appeared to enjoy the event as much as anyone else. Robbie Walsh, 33, traveled from Unionville, Pa., to ride in six of Roedown's 11 races. He won two contests, a flat race aboard a horse he had not previous ridden, Love Colony, and a timber race atop Westbound Road.

"It's nice. That's what we're here for," he said of his victories. Walsh has participated in the Marlborough Hunt Races at Roedown since he moved to America from Ireland in 2001.

Meanwhile, at the starting line rail, the bands continued to play. Michael K. and the Populists, Sweet Leda and Pressing Strings shared equipment and entertained together for the first time. The music portion of the event also served as a fundraiser for the April 19 National Multiple Sclerosis Society's walk in Annapolis. A total of $1,950 was raised.

In what Calver deemed "an appropriate end to the day's successful program," Marlborough Hunt Club won the relay against competing local hunt clubs on the last race of the day.

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