Nearly one hundred years ago, farmers, families and horse owners, would trudge over to Moorland Farms in Far Hills to take part in an event that had come to be called the Far Hills Hunt. It was small and unknown to anyone not from the area, but it was much more than just a hunt or a horse race.
It began as a way to thank landowners for allowing individuals to hunt foxes on their property and has changed and grown tremendously through the years. Today, the hunt is a major supporter for the Somerset Health Care Foundation, with over 35,000 people in attendance this year alone.
A Far Hills History
“My dad was the mayor of Far Hills, so we lived right next door, before there was ever a benefit or anything else,” says Bob Layton, who has been coming to the Far Hills Races with his sister, Marilyn, and friends and family for 46 years. “We would hook up a farm tractor to a wagon, throw hay in it, come in here, and just park on the hill wherever we wanted. That was the atmosphere—with all the families of the horse owners. So it was very personal; everybody knew everybody else.”
When you venture to the Far Hills Race Meeting now, you are just one among tens of thousands of people who have come with their families and friends to enjoy the races, tailgate, and support a great cause. The grounds are flooded with the cosmopolitan masses of individuals ranging from young toddlers to wild college students to seasoned grandparents who are integral parts of an incredible and enduring tradition.
“It’s the main fundraiser for a good cause,” says Pat Torpey, who has been attending the Far Hills Hunt since he was a year old. “The hospital has transformed tremendously as the event has, too. Watching the facility itself develop has kind of traced how the event has developed, too.”
“It’s for a good cause, and it’s a lot of fun,” he continues. “And you really do go from the family section down there to the college kids—you’ll see the kids running around to my mom, who’s 82, and everyone in between. It really is a cross-generational event.”
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