This year is the 102nd running of the Far Hills Race Meeting, better known as The Hunt, which since its founding has raised money to support local healthcare charities. To date, they’ve raised over $20 million. The race takes place on Saturday Oct 21st and Ron Kennedy, the chairman of the event, joined Jim Monaghan to talk about what you need to know about this year’s festivities.
JIM MONAGHAN – Ron Kennedy is the chairman of the Far Hills Race Meeting, better known in this area as The Hunt. It’s one of the signature events in the fall here in the WDHA area. Ron, good morning and welcome to Jersey Nagazine.
RON KENNEDY – Good morning. Thank you for having me.
JM – On Saturday, October 21, the 102nd running of the race. What’s the vibe like at the race for listeners who haven’t been able to get there yet?
RK – It’s a premiere social event, a place to go outside in Jersey and really enjoy the day in the country. It started 102 years ago. Certainly it’s evolved a lot since then, but it’s a place to entertain with your friends, with your family. It’s generational attendance. We have people on reserve parking spots, what was basically tailgating on the hilltop, and they’re fourth and fifth generation people that are local, and they come back. They fly back from wherever they live today. They reunite with friends, they reunite with family. Fraternities have places that they’ve had for maybe 20-30 years. The same frat house has had the same spot for over and over again .So it is truly a reoccurring, once a year generational event that occurs on that property.
JM – And horses come from all over the world for this, correct?
RK – They do. We get a majority of them are from the US, but we’ll get somewhere between six to ten horses that will come over from Europe and race and compete there. We are the richest steeplechase race in the country, so we attract those types of horses that would spend the time and effort to come over from Europe and race against us.
JM – Now, you’ve been there for more than three decades. What’s the biggest change that you’ve seen from year to year?
RK – Right now, technology. That’s the biggest thing. Now it’s social media. Now we have to bring in a tremendous amount of fiber optic for cellular service so everyone can post out their videos and post out to talk to their friends and meet with friends. Years ago, we had a couple of maps and you had to go use old school ways to find your friends around the property. So it’s a change with that. We’re also broadcast live on Fox Sports now; we co-brand with Belmont Park. And so the whole race day, all seven races, are actually broadcast on a live feed through Fox Sports, which is pretty exciting for us.
JM – And aside from the changes of technology, what area couple of the biggest challenges that you face each year, Ron, and putting this event together?
RK – We build a city and take it in. So the challenges are 364 days a year. It’s a farm field. It’s gorgeous 230-acre piece of land, mostly open fields and meadows. And we literally have to build the infrastructure, build whether it’s the corporate tents, whether it’s the fencing around the racetrack, whether it’s the entrances, the vendor village, you build it. And then a couple of days after the event, we take it all back again, bringing in Porta Johns, bringing in all the traffic flow devices that we need for the property. It just takes a big effort to go put it up and then again turn it back into a field when we’re done.
JM – And what are some of the charities that are supported by The Hunt?
RK – So, we have been always supporting charity. The Far Hills Race Meeting Association is a not-for-profit. We’re a 501(c)(3). We give all the money away. Over the last about 40 years now, we’ve raised over $20 million that we’ve donated to different charities. Our charter is healthcare in the region. That’s our beneficiaries. Traditionally, it was the local medical center down at Somerset used to call Somerville Medical Center. It’s transitioned a lot. Now it’s part of the Robert Wood Johnson family called Robert Wood Johnson Somerset. They are a primary benefactor. But we also have five other smaller organizations that are closer to the actual race site itself that are a big part of our event, and it’s great to give them money as well. Community in Crisis. The Life Camp. The Arca, Somerset County, Bonnie Brae and Crossroads for Hope. These are much smaller organizations that we contribute and make a big difference in the contribution questions that we raise for them.
JM – And again, it is one of the signature events of the fall season here in the WDHA listening area, the Far Hills Race Meeting, better known as The Hunt. It’s Saturday, October 21st, and for DHA listeners who want more information, they can go online to farhillsrace.org. Ron Kennedy, thank you so much for talking with us this morning about The Hunt and best of luck with this year’s event.
RK – Thank you so much. We look forward to seeing everyone.