Hermitage Farm: The Weekend Experience

There’s much more than equines to look forward to next weekend at the second annual Hermitage Classic. From dinner parties to a scenic course walk, Terrier and Dachshund races and a sparkling champagne brunch, every age, gender and personality will find something to enjoy at the world-class combined driving competition in Goshen in Oldham County.

Taking place Sept. 21-23, the action-packed Hermitage Classic held on the historic, breathtaking 700-acre Hermitage Farm is sure to please any Kentucky Derby lover, horse enthusiast or even the casual observer looking for something new and unique to experience in the Bluegrass State.

Entrepreneur and co-founder of 21c Museum Hotels, Steve Wilson, helped establish the exhilarating affair in Goshen after he and wife, Laura Lee Brown, purchased Hermitage Farm in 2010. The 2012 installment of the classic will be the first to offer a three-day combined driving competition, a test of athletic endurance, mental stamina and precision for both the horse and driver, whether tackling challenging obstacles at high speed, or demonstrating the obedience, grace and movement of the stunning equine during dressage. The Hermitage Classic course will include dressage and cones arenas located in a lovely flat field, while the marathon course will twist and turn throughout the historic farm land.

Attendees will have a chance to tour the impressive course on the first day of the classic. “The guided spectator course walk on Friday afternoon will be an opportunity for those who want to learn more about Saturday’s Cross Country Marathon portion of the competition,” said Director of Marketing & Special Events for Hermitage Farm, Lindsey LeMaster. “The walk will not cover the entire 10 kilometers (approximate), but will cover the six obstacles, built to test the fitness, stamina and obedience of the horses and the judgment and capability of the driver. Spectators can get a close view of these unique obstacles, and learn more about the competition.”

Aside from the picturesque course walk and the excitement of the driving competition, a number of other special activities are planned for the weekend, making the Hermitage Classic all the more memorable, spellbinding and special for those who attend. During the competition, unique merchant booths and food vendors will be stationed throughout the farm, and on Friday evening, the Original Makers Club will host “The Dark Woods Affair” as a kick off to the Classic, featuring a menu by Wiltshire Pantry including Kentucky Bison crostini, Stonecross Farms pork loin with Bourbon-glazed peaches, toasted Farro pilaf with kale and feta, local tomato and green bean salad, fresh local green salad with Bernheim Forest honey vinaigrette, radishes and citrus, grilled local baby vegetables with smoked paprika aioli, housemade artisan breads and mixed berry and stone fruit shortcake on sweet almond biscuits.

The following day, Original Makers Club and Garden and Gun will offer a VIP Lounge. “The Original Makers Club + Garden & Gun VIP Lounge will include catering by RYE strategically placed to view one of the most exciting hazards in the Marathon portion of the Hermitage Classic,” LeMaster explained. “VIP Lounge guests will have the opportunity to flow in and out of this ‘southern lifestyle experience’ throughout Saturday’s competition.”

Perhaps the most adorable aspect of the Hermitage Classic will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22, at noon, with the newly-added Terrier and Dachshund races organized by the Bluegrass Working Terrier Association, which participates in the High Hope Steeplechase in Lexington, among other events. Cuddly canines will compete in flat and hurdle racing, with classes such as “puppies under one year of age,” “wee bits under 10 (inches)” and “clueless novices.”

On the final day of the driving competition, The Voice-Tribune will host a Korbel Champagne Brunch catered by Wiltshire Pantry with Huevos Rancheros casserole, Stonecross Farms breakfast sausage, smoked cheddar and roasted garlic cheese grits and housemade breakfast pastries on the menu. The elegant dining experience will top off the success of the classic as spectators witness the rousing cones competition and the Hermitage Classic awards ceremony.

“(Wiltshire Pantry is) thrilled to be involved with this world-class equestrian event being held at Hermitage Farm,” said Susan Hershberg, owner of Wiltshire Pantry. “Our menus will feature all of the wonderful fall bounty that is coming from our local growers and producers.”

From the decadent dinner party to the final toast on Sunday, and all the horses, ponies and tiny pooches racing toward the finish line, the Hermitage Classic is an event that won’t soon be forgotten. It’ll also help expose and continue the tradition of beauty in Goshen, with proceeds from the classic benefiting Oldham Ahead, a non-profit community group committed to preserving farmland in Oldham County.

Next weekend, jump out of your horse racing comfort zone at the traditional track, and head to a magnificent facility, hosting the next new equine competition in town. “There are a number of activities that will appeal to all ages,” LeMaster said. “Whether you’re an avid horse show competitor or a first time spectator, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.”

Admission to the Original Makers Club Dinner is $200; Original Makers Club + Garden & Gun Marathon VIP Lounge is $95 (includes general admission); and The Voice-Tribune Brunch is $45 (includes general admission). A bundled ticket featuring the Original Makers Club + Garden & Gun Marathon VIP Lounge and The Voice-Tribune Sunday Brunch is $120; or the Original Makers Club Dinner and The Voice-Tribune Sunday Brunch is $225. Regular classic admission is free on Sept. 21 and $5 on Sept. 22 and 23. 

For more information on the Hermitage Classic and to purchase tickets, visit www.hermitageitc.com.

Schedule of Events

Friday, Sept. 21 - Driven Dressage
8:30 a.m.: Gates Open – Free Admission
9 a.m.: Dressage Competition
4 p.m.: Guided Spectator Course Walk For
Saturday Marathon
7 p.m.: Original Makers Club Party

Saturday, Sept. 22 - Cross-Country Marathon
8 a.m.: Gates Open – $5 General Admission At The Door (Ages 12 And Under Free)
9 a.m.: Original Makers Club + Garden & Gun Vip Lounge Opens
9 a.m.: Marathon Competition
Noon: Terrier and Dachshund Race

Sunday, Sept. 23 – Cones Competition
9:30 a.m.: Gates Open – $5 General Admission At The Door (Ages 12 And Under Free)
10 a.m.: Cones Competition
10:30 a.m.: Awards Ceremony
11 a.m. The Voice-Tribune Brunch