The 104th annual Sonoita Races went off without a hitch the weekend of May 4 – 5, due to the hard work of Race Chairman Jim Lewis, the Fairgrounds Board of Directors, Fairgrounds Manager Jen Rinaldi and a host of volunteers and sponsors. “Everything ran so smoothly, we thought we must be forgetting something,” Board Treasurer Jamie Smith said. “Every board member participated and worked hard to make this event such a success.”
2,400 race fans bet on their favorite horses, cheered on the runners in the Kentucky Derby, which was simulcast on 25 TVs broadcasting throughout the grounds, drank mint juleps and enjoyed the hotly contested Derby Hat contest, which drew 34 contestants this year.
Local resident Faith Keith placed first in the children’s division of the contest. Denise Suratt won first place for the most creative hat.
This year’s races were dedicated to Jim Fields, of Sonoita, who passed away recently. An architect, Fields was a generous supporter of the Sonoita Fairgrounds. He had been involved in the ongoing renovation of the kitchen in Pioneer Hall, donating his time and talents to draw up plans. The races were also dedicated to Becky Halcomb, who has been in charge of the photographic team at the races for the past several years.