It's an annual event under prime fall foliage that has long drawn those who love horse races — and parties — from throughout the Somerset Hills, and also those who throng into the area on trains from New York or elsewhere.
Next Saturday, Oct. 20, the 92nd Far Hills Race Meeting at Moorland Farms in Far Hills will return, and the organizers are expecting more than 40,000 spectators what is officially being counted as the 92nd race.
Gates will open at 8 a.m., although the first race is not scheduled to begin until 1 p.m. However, whether they are in tents at the top of the hills or on picnic blankets with friends, the spectators — many of whom attend year after year — usually take time first for individualized tailgating parties and culinary feasts, or even just unpacking a picnic basket.
The historic event, described as one of the country’s premier steeplechase horse races over Moorland Farm's rolling, grassy hills, will feature top thoroughbred jump racing. The Far Hills Race Meeting traces its origins to the Essex Hunt, a fox hunting event founded in 1870.
But more than a social event, the annual races are a fundraiser, and since the 1950s has raised more than $18 million to benefit Somerset Medical Center in Somerville.
The center's cancer center has been named the Steeplechase Cancer Center in honor of its beneficiary. All proceeds from the event benefit programs and services at the Somerset Medical Center.
Tickets range from $60 for advance general admission to $750 for the Chairman’s Tent, which includes food and beverage services. Options for race-goers include reserved parking spaces for tailgating, a family tailgate area, and a vendor billage featuring fashion and boutique accessories from exclusive boutiques.
Reserved parking spaces for tailgating are also available. The property is at 50 Route 202 in Far Hills.
More information on ticketing is available online. Tickets are available in advance at area Kings Supermarkets and other local businesses through Friday, Oct. 19.
On race day, general admission and parking tickets may only be purchased at the gate.
In recent years, the National Anthem to open the races has been sung by a resident who not only is chosen on the basis of voice, but also because they are participating in honor of someone who has had cancer.
This year's winner is Tess Giardina from Somerville, said Kathleen Roberts, spokeswoman for Somerset Medical Center.
Two of this year's contestants from the Somerset Hills included Dana Collins, age 10, of Far Hills and Tahaella Rasmusson, 15, from Bedminster.
The competition was held on Tuesday among eight contestants at the Steeplechase Cancer Center in Somerville, Roberts said.
Marie Fosket of Basking Ridge sang the National Anthem two years ago.