KERSHAW COUNTY, SC — Thousands turned out Saturday for the annual Marion du Pont Scott Colonial Cup at the Springdale Race Course in Camden.
“I think this is the biggest attendance we’ve had yet,” said Teri Leigh Teed, assistant director for the Carolina Cup Racing Association.
Teed said the organization wouldn’t have final numbers for the steeplechase event, now in its 43rd year, until later in the week but suspected the turnout was due to milder weather than the cup has had in recent years.
The larger crowds also may be from those who took advantage of the cup’s salute to the armed forces. The event traditionally honors members of the military with free passes, and this year was no different.
The cup issued 3,000 general-admission passes and an additional 500 parking spaces to those stationed at area military bases.
While the Carolina Cup – the racing association’s Spring counterpart – has been known to draw crowds of 65,000 or more, the Colonial Cup is smaller in size but still well-attended, typically bringing in crowds of about 10,000-15,000 or more.
“We love it,” said Susan Mason, of Rock Hill.
Mason had driven from the Upstate along with her father, Bo Lowry, to join her sister, Cecilia Stevenson, and about 16 others from the Fort Mill and Rock Hill areas. Throw in a group from Camden and the tailgating party had swelled to more than 30.
“It’s not as crowded. It’s friendly. And it’s easier to speak to people,” she said.
A longtime regular at the races, Mason says the cup has given her a chance to “really get to know the Camden crowd.”
The Camden connection? Cecilia’s husband, Leslie, is a local.
“So, once a year, you get to say ‘hey’ and give them all a big hug,” she said.
Also in the infield Saturday were Vicki and Robert Havens of Camden. The Havenses and about two dozen family members, friends and neighbors had set up several tables overflowing with platters of oysters, jalapeño poppers, barbecue, chicken, ham and finger foods.
“I think we’ve covered all the bases,” said Vicki Havens.
The lavish gathering, which now serves as the family’s Thanksgiving, was brought to the race course early Saturday morning in three truckloads.
“Now, getting it all back in the truck is when the real fun starts,” she said.