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Thursday, 25 April 2013 12:33

Saratoga 150 Set to Kick Off Next Week

By Brian Cremo | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The much anticipated opening week of Saratoga 150 is set to start Wednesday, May 1.

When the initial plans were made to commemorate 150 years at the Saratoga Race Course, the oldest sports venue in the United States, one of the first decisions was to make the celebration span over the course of five months, unlike the 1963 centennial that lasted just one.

After buying into that philosophy, organizers of the event established another standard: making the events more than affordable.

“The concept was to get the people,” said Joseph Dalton, who worked at the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce for 40 years, and is now one of the 30 committee members and coordinator for Saratoga 150. “We wanted to involve the entire community and make it so you didn’t have to have a hell of a lot of money to get involved.”

One of the ways the committee did that was by offering a $15 official Saratoga 150 Lapel Medallion, which can be purchased at any branch of Adirondack Trust. The medallion gives an individual free admission to a number of events, which are marked by an asterisk on the extensive 150 website: www.Saratoga150.com.

The site includes a calendar of over 200 events, many of which have been done in the past, but not as publicized. The 64 non-profit organizations get included along with the new 150 events free of charge and gain publicity in exchange for using the 150 logo.

“There’s so much going on in Saratoga, that people don’t usually get the word that it’s available,” Dalton said. “By the calendar, they’re going to get more information about it. A lot of people are going to find out about a lot of things that take place at Saratoga.”

The medallion will also allow $5 off of specific events at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

“When you look at festivals like this, there’s usually a formal ball,” Dalton said. “What we said was, ‘No, we’re going to do a $2 Bettors Ball and we’re going to do it differently.’ What we tried to do was keep it so the Joe average guy with a $15 purchase can go. We tried to keep it off the black tie and champagne route and make it for the average guy in town. We have kept it low key. When we looked at it, this has to be close to savings of $100.”

Unlike the centennial celebration that included a formal ball, 2013 will have more festive events like the August 17 Bettors Ball at the Saratoga City Center, which will include three different bands in three different rooms. Music from the 40s, 50s and 60s will be in one, 70s and 80s in another and 90s to the present day in a third.

Aside from the fun and games, like being able to enter a chance to wager $15,000 of someone else money without a tax consequence unless you win, there will also be many Saratoga educational opportunities. Usually there is just one encampment a year. This summer, there will be four: War of 1812, Civil War, Revolutionary War and the French and Indian War.

All the major events will be videotaped and put on file for future viewing, unlike the centennial celebration, which aside from a video of the parade there is not much documented footage.

Although many of the events are free of charge, all proceeds of this summer’s events will go to community service groups. Nothing will be going to the 150 fund, said Dalton, who feels the two honorary chairs, Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson, couldn’t be a better example of supporting Saratoga County.

“They’ve always been good supporters of the community in all sorts of ways,” Dalton said. “I never knew how committed they were to Saratoga and how hard they will work on something. The Floral Fest is all Marylou. John Hendrickson is a work horse and he comes up with great ideas. Take the Hoofprints Walk of Fame. That was his idea. He put it all together. That’s coming out of his pocket. All those granite plaques on the ground, he paid for. They’re not shy about spending their money to promote Saratoga, but I never knew how hard they worked on a project until now. It’s not someone just writing a check out and saying goodbye.”

One of the first of five events to kick off the celebration of the birth of Thoroughbred racing is the 54th annual horseshow. Formerly known as the St. Clements’s Horse Show, it is now in its second year as the Saratoga Spring Horse Show at the Yaddo Showgrounds/NYRA Grounds. It will go from May 1 to May 5. For more information visit the Saratoga 150 event page at www.Saratoga150.com/events/Saratoga 150-events/.

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