At Knox Field, under a grand white tent, was East Aurora’s version of the Kentucky Derby.
Conversation and champagne flowed as a polo match was in play. The mood was set, however, by the sea of extravagant hats.
Philanthropists and polo enthusiasts gathered Saturday for the third annual Memorial Polo Cup, hosted by The Stables at Knox Inc.
Proceeds from the $125 VIP tickets will benefit the rehabilitation and preservation of the historic Equestrian Stables in Knox Farm State Park, as well as the East Aurora Boys and Girls Club, said John Hatcher, president of The Stables at Knox.
The United States Polo Association competed during the event, which also was a celebration of the Knox family’s rich legacy of polo and philanthropy, Hatcher added.
About 400 people showed up to support the causes, beginning with a champagne brunch at 11 a.m. Across the field, the general public was welcome to bring chairs and picnic during the polo match, which began at 1 p.m. Admission was free, with a $10 parking fee.
The guests gathered under the tent arrived in style, embracing the spectator sport’s signature posh setting. Dramatic hats are a staple, and Laurie Judith Krantz was on hand to make sure any woman could take part in the look.
Krantz, owner of Judith Krantz Salon and Boutique in Orchard Park, regularly makes statement hats and accessories inspired by fashion from 1890 to the 1920s. She said she loves the looks from around 1901, “back when women dressed like women.”
Modeling a black sinamay top hat with a ribbon and feathers gathered in the front, the Hamburg resident pointed out the collection she brought. From the wide-brimmed sun hats to the embellished Titanic-era cloches, some women couldn’t resist including one into their looks.
Sharleen Hannon of Lockport chose a sand-colored fastener (a 1920s-style headband) with an artful grouping of tulle on the top left side of her head. She added a few thin black feathers herself.
“I’m all about the sparkle, anything glam-y,” she said.
“This is our favorite part of the event,” said her friend, Amanda Janicki of Amherst, wearing a multicolored, striped sundress and picking up her straw fedora.
They came to support the organization and their friend Teresa Reile, one of its board members.
Inspired by Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Reile wore a form-fitting white dress and matching hat from Judith Krantz, which had a prominent brim with a white flower sitting on top.
Reile said she was enjoying the afternoon.
“I look forward to a great game, great weather and all the wonderful people who come out to support the Knox farm,” she said.